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6 The Oak

mirror6LADY GREGORY’S EARTHLY nightmare: the crash of the acorn, and the roots jostling
each other rudely through the cleft.’

An Arthurian oak ship, sailing the seven centuries, is under attack from
aliens. The bark emits a gall that traps every familiar monster in a
spherical prison – a setback so habitual it alters the course of evolution.
Sealing off a whole wing is no more heroic. Why carry an oak deck no
longer needed? Why not starve it of sap to conserve precious resources?

1st – The Royal Oak
Stormtroopers, riding among the junipers, discover the rebels’ armoury
sharing a hollow veteran of the forest with a woodpecker – but not the
once-and-future king on a trampoline of ropes in his loosening
upper chamber, in woodsman’s attire, kept awake by a retainer’s elbow.

2nd – The Humanitarian Oak
A knuckle of oak from one of the patrol ships, fashioned into a pen holder,
was gifted from PM Brown to President Obama. Naval sea dogs harry
piratical wolves. Shackles are never found on board: the evidence tends to
be timber en route to Africa – a slave deck not yet assembled.

3rd – The Oak of Sustenance
It’s morning in paradise! Holm acorns like starfruit on branches springing
the timeless space around Grand Tour antiquities crated in Greece and
shipped to Holkham are grown in the park by gardeners’ thrift. Their
succulent yield is freighted to London, fodder for the zoo’s giraffes.

4th – The Forgotten Oak Wood
A bogeymen stalks an abandoned munitions factory – by the time the oaks
had grown to maturity, stunted and sick, ironclads bore down on rebel
colonies. A child of these woods might soon lose his innocence, swiping
with a cricket bat at a lover’s heart pierced by an ogre’s arrow.

5th – The Collegiate Oak
It’s far from sporting to shut this massive door, no doubt the valve to a
conclave or an orgy. The carvings are cuttings from Rousseau’s garden,
with serpents and squirrels frolicking together in the foliage. From the
biome of moral experiment so many promising students are expelled.

6th – The Oak Sapling as a Weed
Acorns drop and are hoarded; some are flung. We separate ourselves from
spent enthusiasms, including the sonnet’s perfection (warty octave,
smooth, shiny sestet). We might find one in a pocket with our keys, which
explains their favoured habitat – front gardens likelier than back.

All six – The Cacophonous Oak
This is the harvest festival of the species, the week when caterpillars
munch in their leafy larder. On a still day a woman hears jaws above her, a
mumbled satisfaction, getting louder as her hearing sifts frequencies.
At such attunement men can only gawp – incredulous, unengaged.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos



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