Upon a time, once, long ago,
in a place that I know not,
a hooded child (in a crimson coat)
through forest paths did trot.
Across the moss the rocks wore proud
‘n past the deadwood, she
did take her solitary way –
from fear, she wandered free.
Alone, un-lost, ‘n unafraid;
prowling, she crept toward
two grazing does, their delicate
poise lost as she did ford
the streaming currents, coursing on
‘n cutting through the earth;
her lupine eyes mirrored the light
that leapt from off the surf.
She splashed across to chase them off!
Over the roots she ran!
The wicker – wound to bear their goods –
swung slightly in her hand…
Deep depths of prime ‘n ancient fear:
the un-pathed forest heart;
the void-black shroud o’er Europe’s wilds
that tears the mind apart…
On limb of sinew set with surging
prime ‘n ancient missives,
the awesome, arch, ‘n apex foe
of th’north – raised to elicit
illicit sound; forbidden scent; a
sign of trespass grave –
stood, with claws but half-retracted;
fierce, her furrowed face.
The ears that scanned atop her skull
picked up, from th’middle distance,
the prey that fled ‘n the clumsy steps
of a creature whose existence
was weaved in threads of mythic mist:
an animal apart.
Beyond the wooded border they
had tread their fiery spark…
Leather boots o’er ankles at
the ends of long, slight legs;
the girl grasped at the dagger – sheathed –
as leaves cut light to shreds
and left the forest floor in its
liminal chaos – black,
littered with spots of light made red
as, through the autumn, passed
the flames of fire flaring
in the wake of wand’ring time.
She tempered, then, her spirit-song ‘n
trekked the track’s incline…
The she-wolf brought her muzzle down;
her eyes pierced straight ahead.
She sensed the cycling moon that, now,
its crescent-youth did shed
and which, with waxing influence,
did pull upon the tides.
Her paws – flexed broad – began their
loping gait. Beneath her hide
a proto-litter, lulled a-by
their cradle’s refuge, slept.
Their mother – metranomic matrix –
onward-bound now crept…
Honour-bound to make her way
‘n emerge from this cauldron
full of primal terrors that
e’er ne’er released their hold on
the human animal, the girl,
lower back dully aching,
took loping strides on narrow feet –
the path they were forsaking
fell fully to the west ‘n sank
away, its dusk-dust passing
into the longed-for left behind:
long-gone ‘n everlasting…
Along the trail by sound-scent lit,
o’er roots ‘neath matted-moss,
with senses sapient she went,
unafraid ‘n un-lost.
Wary, though, she was of what
the standing spirit brought…
They carried flame, ‘n thrust ‘n
threw their blades whene’er they fought!
Deftly down the decline; leap
the ditch; defy the sheer,
rock-jagged rise to reach the auld
roots – rampant ‘n severe…
Within her belly burned the
menarchian, must’ring muse.
She clambered, clutching damp branch-bark;
she lit upon auld roots.
Stabilising herself – her knees
held bent; her arms out wide –
she crouched within the womb of
forest night ‘n felt the tide
of lunar luminescence
levelled at her profile – fierce.
Into her inner being, now,
the she-wolf’s eyes did pierce…
The fierce ‘n fearful profile
of the girl-child froze in light
which fell upon the clearing,
clatt’ring through the cover – slight.
Inside, a gutt’ral warning rose
to rend the silent air
with thund’rous growls; her muzzle
trembled, lifting up to bare
her daggered danger – fangs of white;
carnass’yuls clenched, unsheathed.
Incisive were the instincts at
th’roots of her deadly teeth…
Baring the blade of un-shone steel,
she showed the wolf her height.
The wolf displayed her slender power,
circuhling the sprite.
Circling back, then further in
amongst the latticed wood,
the crimson of her coat bled through
the fibres of her hood.
Across the latticed wood, her paws
traversed the knots ‘n hollows.
Her lupine eyes ne’er slipped their gaze
from off the girl she’d followed.
Sapient, her ancient instinct
surged about her mind,
keeping the girl’s gaze locked upon
that she’d not wished to find.
Their bowels blazed with courage, birthing
tender terror t’ward
the other, who to whom neither
could gentleness afford.
Entreating each the other to
encroach upon the space
that held fast, now, its shape ‘n size
up to the edge they traced
together, both the beings bent
their will beneath the moon –
one rageous to stave th’other off;
one desp’rate to consume…
Potential life released; potential
life mid-realisation –
they bracedlungedleapt ‘n landed
in collisive escalation
of growth – ferocious; final! They
did crash against the bark
that shattered for to send them falling
deep into the dark
of hollowed, auld, primord’yul depths,
unbound within the earth!
A basket lay in moonlight, left
beside the riv’ring surf…
Image credit – Corey Rivera Illustrations