The Return of the Green Man

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Longlisted for the Write about Walking A/way competition 2023

His wound-up crozier straightens out 
tightened springs unwind, releasing
frondy fingers first, tipped with soft new nails

followed by stalk of hand and wrist 
then un-stretched arcs of bramble arms 
thrown out to grasp and root.

Keratin hardens, new limbs grow 
stronger from the making. He emerges 
phloem fed, hydrated by xylem

strong-armed in lignin. Rib circled 
he inspires, his inflating body 
ready to break its bonds

swollen with fresh projections. 
Leaves sprout from every crack 
jostling. They are drawn forth

these unsuspected members 
to find themselves
full of purpose and unruly.

Renewed man is almost ready 
to take his leave once more, 
once he has learned to walk

and take stock. Firmly rooted 
multi-limbed he advances 
when you’re not looking

implanting his staff afresh
he leaves the last one, leading 
the way to his rightful place

through irrepressible growth.

Richard Westcott

Richard Westcott

I’m now retired from a fulfilled lifetime of NHS doctoring, with no longer any excuse for not writing poetry. I still live where I worked – why move, when it’s North Devon, near the sea, on the edge of Exmoor? – a wonderfully varied landscape I...


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