The Soft Allegorical Woods

Roads lie buried here
in the forest that came before,
and sometimes you can find them,
up the long alder lanes
or down the lush wades of the giant ferns.

But if you get lost
just follow the gaps and traces
through the thickets and tangled
branches where deer step lightly
and bobcat pad or even—
if you look closely enough—
the tiny seams where
woodrat and vole have skittered
through the low, intricate topography
of this variable ground
you must solve like a crossword.

When the mud thickens
and the skunk cabbage leers,
you may even climb,
ducking and pulling through
cane brakes and vines,
up the steep sides of the hill
where a snag will give way
and you find yourself
falling, backwards, through air,
into the soft forgiving loam.
These things cannot hurt you.
These woods were made by falling.

No way is the wrong way.
You have been here before
and you are still here.
You can’t go wrong
and you can’t come out,
here in the soft allegorical woods.

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