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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Cloud Forest


Archivo:Costa rica santa elena skywalk.jpg

Beyond the haunted hills of a region without name lie Cloud Forests traversed by skywalks that disappear into a dense bosky nebulosity of floating vapors; beneath these precarious spans into nowhere the atmosphere is permanently dim and airless, charged with confused perfumes of rotting vegetation, incense-fogged.

Pockets of ferns and trunks of great sunken mahogany trees rise out of the flooded forest floor. Lost children pick their way blind and bewildered among the wooded depths of this place beyond all maps, outside all human ken.

Large blue thunderheads gather every forenoon, looming up as vast bruises upon a forever menacing sky. Numb prisoners in irons trudging through the undergrowth mutter what may be worksongs, or mad oaths, or invectives against gods who have ceased to exist many centuries before.

Birds resembling some kind of prehistoric geese wheel toward the north one minute, then the next execute long sweeping turns and wing back toward the south, their arcs writing enormous looping diagrams upon the thick aerial medium, as if cancelling time out of history.

In the night something ends, in the morning something begins all over again, the division between these phases is not clearly demarcated, the details of what may have happened or may be about to happen remain anybody's guess, and it is questionable at any given point whether anyone is still sufficiently alive to do the guessing.

Asking a passerby for the time of day is an invitation to possession by obscure forebodings, for chances are good the passerby is merely a phantasm seeded into one's mind by languid salamandrine beings from another dimension who rule over this terrain as a pastime, an interlude between chapters of a more important work.

Archivo:Cloud forest mount kinabalu.jpg

Suspension bridge of the "Skywalk" north of Santa Elena, Costa Rica: photo by Dirk van der Made, 2004
Cloud forest, Mount Kinabalu, Borneo: photo by NepGrower, 2006



Yes, clouds and rain and branches moving in wind -- I can see it (here) in your poem, see and hear going on (here), as here --

grey whiteness of cloud against invisible
ridge, motion of shadowed green branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

to maintain, one’s position
here in certain sense

for more organized panorama,
picture, presumably a

shadowed canyon of ridge above channel,
wingspan of pelican flapping across it

TC said...


Lovely again, maintaining a light in (and despite) the voluminous rain.

(Good fishing weather for pelicans?)

Redwood in cloud bending and dripping... here in the urban forest.

Studio Jameson said...

You have touched upon the essence of the forest…the unknowable, the all seeing, and the spiritual infusion of oldness. The timelessness of the forest we grew to know in our sojourn to Humboldt County, was seductive and secretive in its all encompassing beauty yet a part of me willing gave up my identity.

TC said...

Ah, to be there... even as compost. 'Twould be bueno.

Anonymous said...

The atmosphere and images you manage to conjure up in my mind's eye, with your words written; does the trick for me.The smell lingering in my nostrils, well after my eyes have caressed your words. Know that Thomas!

TC said...


A baby like this one could never really come to life without the sensitivity of a reader like you to care for it and give it a chance to grow.

My great thanks and very best wishes to you as ever.


leigh tuplin said...

I love the sweeping sentences in this Tom - they pull you in and hold you there.