When I was sixteen, it was my favourite song.
But as I listened, I didn’t know
that I, too, was lost in a forest.
For years, the trees had multiplied:
a hundred miles and no perspective
spun from the fingers of a witch.
The witch was a man, the man was a priest;
and the spell began as words: seeds,
dropped casually, precisely, into prepared ground.
Then, from an invasive rhizome
a taproot that extended underground,
the forest grew, snagging so thickly
it allowed only a mile of circular movement a day:
horrifying by later implication.
The fairy tale of the spell that sleeps the world
is true: the castle where even the flies sleep,
where the cook about to beat the apprentice sleeps;
my life slept, my will slept, and the forest grew.
He shrank me, so that I became small:
so small, I was mitochondrion,
energy for someone else’s self.
The forest took my youth
and sometimes it wants the adult too.
Now that I am out in the open,
like a person walking away from a crash
I trust in distance, and keep going:
glad to have survived into the sunlight
that holds no forest within.
But on certain nights
when I wake from dreams,
I look back and see it has grown on the horizon.
I still see the darkness during the day
and feel the scream returning, muffled
deep in the place no one can hear.
Then I turn, and walk on.
All I trust is what belongs
to the forward horizon.