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30 April 2008

The Oak and the Ivy

- a fable, no prizes for guessing who is who

Written late April 2008 - (208 lines)

*

NOTE:
A symbiotic relationship benefits both parties,
whereas a parasitic one only benefits one.

*

According to the guidebook we now stand
Before the biggest Oak tree in the land
And like all other Oaks this one grew
From one little acorn sprouting through
The soil before reaching this age and size -
If an Oak tree could think this one would be wise!

And wrapped gracefully around the Oak
We see an Ivy, like a cloak
Climbing and twisting its way higher up
Maybe it reaches right to the top

The guidebook then goes on to say
That this is Nature's wonderful way
And, the reader by now enthralled
A classic example of what is called
By an expression heard on any field trip
A symbiotic relationship
That is, it benefits both the host
And the guest - which gets the most
Benefits and the details of those
The guidebook conveniently fails to disclose...

Obviously to the Ivy's benefit -
But what does the Oak get out of it?

*

Now ignore the guidebook, just let it drop
Walk right up to the Oak, then stop
And if you are the perceptive kind
It is just possible that you might find
The following conversation taking place
Between Oak and Ivy, so quietly brace
Yourself, lean lightly against the tree
Close your eyes for there is nothing to see
And, ever so gently, press your ear
Against the trunk, who knows, you might hear -

The Ivy whispering: "I want the light
I have told you many times, it is my right!
If you do not let me climb to the very top I might
Squeeeeeeeze you just a little too tight
And then it would be time for you to say goodnight!
Oakey dokey? (he-heee!) You get my drift?
If you agree I just might lift
The siege and let you continue to breathe
And I do not care how intensely you seethe
With rage inside for you exist for me
You give me stature for eternity!
Without you I would be forced to crawl
Along the ground, exposed to all
The dangers and hardships of life down there
The real world is not for me to share
Maybe forced to beg for my food
Or eat nasty things that live in dead wood...

You give me shelter, you give me strength
I want to climb along the full length
Of your strong trunk and I will not stop
Before I reach the very top
Forever to enjoy the bright sunshine -
I will make you mine, all mine!

Over time I have steadily grown
To like you for I felt so alone
And unloved in this dangerous world
Where threats, abuses, insults are hurled
Sadly reality has brutally shown
I would not last very long on my own
And if I had to stand on these little feet
It is clear to all that I would soon meet
My fate, for I do know they want me to go
But I do not understand why they hate me so...

And if events were to suddenly strip
Me away from you, my world would flip
From a quest for immortality
To a test of survivability...

So I carefully selected you just for me
As you know the rest is history
And it was as simple as one - two - TREE!

I slowly encircled you with my snare
And now you cannot go anywhere!

I will tie you up further as I see fit
You may have seen nothing yet!

And use you as my patient slave
To tolerate anything that I might crave!

I will never be short of things to do
For I have many plans for you!

With every novel twist and turn
I will make you dizzy and you will learn!

Look up and down and you will see
You were tailor-made for me!

No doubt you were made to measure
To serve only me at my wicked pleasure!

Watch in awe as I deftly weave
My masterpiece of make-believe!

My web of lies is so strong
You have no choice but to go along!

My sturdy mesh now envelops your skin
I am hunting down the soul within!

Accept as true that you cannot escape
For I surround your entire shape!

Know that I have you in my grasp
And if I want I can make you gasp!

You will of course be allowed to survive
But only so that I-vy can thrive!

Obviously you do not need me
But I will never set you free!

You took some time and effort to tame
My very own toy, my climbing frame!

And I will keep hugging you frantically
Not wasting away horizontally!

Against the backdrop of a boring old Oak
I get the attention and you know I love to soak
Up the applause as they all admire me
And bow down in worship, green with envy!

We both know it is completely idiotic
But tell the world the word is SYMBIOTIC

Is it a deal then? I could not care less
What you answer for the choice is YES!"

*

And the Oak replies, after letting out a groan
Close to exhaustion, feeling so alone
Although in the Ivy's tightening clasp -
The executive branch with a throaty rasp:

"My life has been misery ever since you set foot
On my sacred soil where you sunk your root -
If only I could move my branches I would shoot
You from here and all the way to hell
For as any astute observer can tell
I am in deep trouble, to say all is not well
Is this century's understatement!
Why did you come? Or were you sent?
I seek an answer in the New Testament...

And I ask every day: why me - oh why?
Are you perhaps a planted spy?

Like a cleverly scheming poisonous snake
You crept in to claim your evil stake
Resolved it was here of all places you would make
Your home, your career, your future - your quest
To pass ME off as YOUR unwanted guest!

You miserable visitor slowly choke
The biggest strongest proudest Oak
Constricting the flow of my life-giving sap
Maybe one day you will turn off the tap
By your carefully dosed suffocating strangle -
Is there any way left for me to disentangle
Myself from your toxic and deadly embrace?
Could I only uproot myself and move to some new place
But NO - so the answer stares us in the face:

Root and branch, tear you away
To prevent any further premature decay
How long can I continue to stand up and cope?
It seems my last remaining hope
Before I might all too suddenly slip
Into a coma is immediately to rip
You away from me and throw you on the ground
Anywhere a suitable clearing can be found
Leave you to wither and when brown and dry
The time has come to let you fry
Coldly without ceremony set you alight
Watch the fire consume you with delight
Collect your ashes and seal them in an urn
To make absolutely sure that you do not return!

Alas! Only dreams and vivid fantasies!
We both know who makes the prophecies!
Too late for me to turn over a new leaf
All thanks to you - you dirty little thief!

You stole my soul and now my role
Is to help you make your universe whole...

So I will tell lies to all who come
To admire my strength and size, for some
Who heard a whispered truth or two
Immediately went and reported me to you!
Betrayal by one's uninvited guest
Is terrible indeed - but you know best!

And I will tell them that I need you
Many are the things you willingly do
For me alone, and for what you have done
Like (erm), such as (erm), not forgetting (erm), and so on -
My eternal gratitude and friendship were won
We share the same outlook on everything
We dream together what the future might bring
The perfect match made in heaven without
Question - could one survive alone? I doubt!
We were made for each other, that much is clear
So cling to me, I support you my dear!
For our relationship is SYMBIOTIC
And not parasitic! NOT PARASITIC!

Will that do Ivy? I will repeat
And rehearse those lines if you find them sweet
For to please you is all I want to do
Your wish my command - as I promised you!

Fairy tales for the common folk!
We know every word is a cruel joke
But we shall make them all believe
For they were born for us to deceive

OaKay - you are happy with my pack of lies
Although the world well knows that it flies
In the innocent face of decency
But I know that to ask you for clemency
Is a waste of time so I will comply
With your request until I die...

Oh, let me just say this before I sleep:
I loathe and detest you but I must keep
Silent about this despicable deal
That you have threatened to reveal
To the whole world - and now goodnight
You filthy little creep! You PARASITE!"

*

Did you hear all that? If not it may be best
You go as soon as possible for a hearing test
The vibrations are there for us all to pick up
They resonate throughout the world non-stop

If you heard nothing at all, where have you been?
If you still need help, here is a clue, no two:
The Oak spoke English but not like the Queen
And the Ivy - have you guessed it? - spoke Hebrew...

*

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