Inspiration and Prompt
I’d like to thank fellow writer Vincent Moore for encouraging me to write a poem based on a photo called ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ recently shared on Facebook. This poem is the result of that prompt.
The Dead Man’s Fingers
I shivered as I walked alone
Through the early morning mist.
Hoping at this time of day
I wouldn’t yet be missed.
The forest floor was slippery,
The foliage damp with dew.
I trudged on through the undergrowth,
All thoughts on finding you.
My flashlight danced amongst the trees,
To light the semi-dark.
A sudden shrieking made me jump,
It was just a startled lark.
I pushed through branches, vines, and webs,
Not knowing where I was,
No way of telling east from west,
T’was clear that I was lost.
It seemed my quest was hopeless
But something drove me on.
I had to solve this riddle
Of where my love had gone.
A clearing opened up ahead
As the sun began to rise.
This place must hold the answer
To end a million lies.
A week ago you’d last been seen
Entering this wood,
To find those special mushrooms
That made your food so good.
The police had scoured the forest,
But their search had been in vain.
Any clues there may have been,
Washed away with days of rain.
I shuffled through leaf litter,
Pushed fallen logs aside.
I had to find the woman
Who vowed to be my bride.
An ill-placed foot on mossy rock
Caused me to slip and fall,
The horrid sight that met my eyes
In nightmares, I’ll recall.
Poking through the leaves and moss
Of the eerie forest floor,
Eight grotesquely pleading fingers,
“Please save me!” they implored.
I stared in shock, mouth gaping
At those ghostly fingertips,
Tears of sorrow soaked my cheeks,
But no sound passed by my lips.
I turned and stumbled through the wood,
Escaping truths revealed.
Hastening back to my home
To report the corpse concealed.
The deathly fingers beckoned,
Reaching from the ground,
Calling to the searchers,
Needing to be found.
I helped to lead the police team
To the clearing where you lay,
But more surprises were to come
To light that very day.
They dug the soil around the hands
To find what it may hide,
Then the Chief Investigator
Came and sat down by my side.
“Mr. Jones,” he said quite calmly,
“I’m not sure how this may sound,
But there is no human body
Buried in this ground.”
“But what about the fingers..?”
I started to reply,
“Poking up from out the ground,
Reaching for the sky.”
“They are a type of mushroom
That really is quite rare,
They’re called the ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’,
But there is no body there.”
“So, Sally is still missing?
A week is much too long.
You really have to step it up!”
All sense of closure, gone.
To this day no trace of you,
All sightings have proved wrong.
Now and then they find a clue,
But nothing very strong.
Your disappearance haunts my dreams,
The mystery, it lingers.
Visions still invade my mind
Of those gruesome ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’.
John Hansen © 2016
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