She used to walk in the woods at night,
She said she needed the air,
But didn’t want me to go with her,
She said that it’s cold out there.
‘Well, cold for me would be cold for you,’
I said, but she didn’t mind,
‘I need to go on my own,’ she said,
Made out she was being kind.
Though what it was I would find, who knew?
It raised suspicions in me,
For what do you meet in a darkened wood
But only the occasional tree?
Perhaps she wasn’t the only one
Who wandered into the sward,
Maybe another lonely one,
But no, she gave me her word.
Not that her word was worth too much
As I’d caught her out before,
Meeting a man delinquently,
But never again, she swore.
I had no reason to doubt her then
She said she would play it square,
‘It’s only an empty wood,’ she said,
‘There’s nothing but trees out there.’
I followed her into the woods one night,
Kept quietly out of sight,
And watched as she entered a clearing,
Deep in the dead of night.
She walked straight up to an old ash tree
And knelt before it, and prayed,
While fronds from the tree encircled her,
Like some strange masquerade.
And then as I watched, a shape appeared
Embedded within the tree,
The form of a man, the god named Pan
As clear as it could be.
Patricia advanced, embraced him now
And the form sprang into life,
Doing the things you wouldn’t do
Except with a much loved wife.
He looked like a goat that stood *****,
His horns swept back from his head,
Balancing on his cloven hoofs
While I hid myself in dread.
He raised a set of pipes to his lips
And played an enchanting tune,
That swept the glade as Patricia played
And cavorted in the gloom.
Then suddenly I was back at home,
Woke up in my easy chair,
I rubbed my eyes to the sound of sighs
And Patricia was standing there.
‘I just had the strangest dream,’ I said,
‘Of you in a woodland glade.’
And she just smiled for a little while
As I sat in my chair, dismayed.
‘I think I know why you wander now,
Though you never will with me,
There’s something about a clearing there
And a most remarkable tree.’
She turned, and pierced me with a look
That said that she didn’t care,
‘It’s true, I have a favourite nook
Where I go… I saw you there!’
David Lewis Paget