A woodland path stippled with sun, hushed and quiet -
but the path I found myself on was a dark and dangerous one.
I'd been blackberrying - bramble-scratched, branch-slapped -
snapping from barbs berries fat as leeches
seeping blood-juices on my fingers.
Wood anemones opened pale hands to reach for me,
their fragrant star faces enticed me.
They beckoned, pulling me further and further away
from the world I knew and deeper into the wood.
The forest closed around me, trapping me
in a tangle of twining paths and trembling trees,
the ground layered with brown and golden leaves.
Treetops cackled with the black caws of crows,
bushes bled red berries, grasses lashed my legs.
And every time the footpath forked
I went deeper, I went darker.
Tick-tock time slowed to a crawl,
watch hands wound backwards.
The whispering wood grew dimmer;
what little light there was struck trees and disappeared.
Fly agaric mushroomed into blood-raw open sores,
ivy ropes dangled nooses from branches.
Crying was useless, my panic-forced tears were hopeless.
Moles mouldered, luminous with maggots,
rabbits rotted, their throats ripped out.
Sky turned ink-dark, lonely wood-wild nights engulfed me.
With time, thoughts of home began to fade,
the seething forest seemed friendlier;
trees were a tease of teal and green,
rippling with strange and teeming life.
Amber algae scorched sunsets on umber bark,
wood sorrel crept, beetles burrowed, lichens came alive.
The forest floor was feathered with ferns
and plush with sponge-soft moss.
Now and again I caught the briefest glimpse of blue,
cool and welcome as water,
and once or twice, through distant trees, I spotted
what I took to be the twinkling lights of a town,
but it was only rainbow flickers glinting on leaves.
I've been gone too long, I'm too far gone.
Faint memories of home still siren-sing to me,
but just when I think I've found the right track
the forest tightens its grip, drawing me back.