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.

Advertisement

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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

 Pope Francis and Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski stand outside the presidential palace in Lima, Peru, Jan.19.(CNS photo//Mariana Bazo, Reuters)
“The degradation of the environment...cannot be separated from the moral degradation of our communities.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 20, 2018
The U.S. bishops had an unusually busy year issuing positive and negative statements about the new president, but some hoped for more decisive action against his policies.
Michael J. O’LoughlinJanuary 19, 2018
Transgender patients “need to know they are welcome and they will not be looked down upon” if they come to Catholic institutions seeking treatment, says Sister Carol Keehan.
Kevin ClarkeJanuary 19, 2018
Francis is the first pope to come to the Amazon region, and he insisted that his first event and major speech of his visit to Peru should be to this place.
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 19, 2018