by William Patton
Up I stood, began to walk, and put
My sign beneath my arm; and kicking stones,
Enjoyed the gentle rain, the scattered sun
When called my name inside the forest. Lo!
I turned around. No one was there. Again
The call. No one was there. I kept on walking.
I felt a wisp. It felt like breath
And echoed whispers, Here, I’m over here
I dropped my sign and through the forest walked.
A westward breeze blew eastward then blew south
Became a wind, blew north as leaves whirled ‘round
In spirals, stopped. Again I felt the wisp.
Again I felt a breath, a breeze
Then heard a whisper, Will!
I looked around.
The road had disappeared. All I could see
Were limbs and leaves and little lights on drops
Of water glistening in the thinning rays.
The trees grew thick. They swallowed rays. There was
A flame. It spread upon a chandelier
‘Cross candles, O ten thousand candles shined
As breezes whispered, Will, young Will, come in
Then doors appeared and darkness overcame
The forest. Through the open doors I walked
As darkness darkened black and candle flames
Were multiplied by mirrors. All was bright
Like midday’s sun. It burned my eyes when lo!
The room filled ever full of toys and games,
Devices, gadgets, things and things and all
Was new and shining and I grabbed them, and I ate
And I grew so fat, the room went pop whilst all
Things sour up-chucked stink then turned to dust.
The mirror sucked in. Ten thousand flames rose toward
My head when flash! I saw my boyish self
A-slithering through a tree with little worms
That guided me to fruit, the fruit they said
They loved to eat. They said the best of fruits
Are fruits of green; and as they ate the ones
Of red, I ate the ones of green. Then mamma
Came, for she had told me ne’er to eat
The fruit of green, My son, what have you done?
I lied. O Will
, she said, You’ve lied to me
And far away I ran to hide but fell
Upon the floor and writhed as pain shot through
My gut. Again I turned and flash! I’d fangs
with cheeks of cherubim, an eye of red,
An eye of blue as round my neck my left
Hand grabbed a hold and choked. My right hand yanked
The left away and barely could I breathe.
The floor was trembling and my feet found not
Their hold when flash! I fell into ten thousand
Flames when flash! The mirror was empty save
For candles to infinity. I screamed,
But heard no sound. Then came a gentle hand.
I turned to see a man there standing. He’d
A wore a long red robe and mistletoe was ‘round
His crown and he was chuckling. Down his beard,
As old as life, his chuckles flowed like oak
Leaves all a-rustle in a great oak tree.
He smelled of earth both sweet and rotty and
His eyes looked from ten billion years like stars
Appearing at the birth of time. They shined
So softly as he said, begin again
His words were airy like the birds but grounded
Like the beasts. As strong as mountains, they
Were fluid like the seas; but I heard not
What else he said before he stopped
And handing me my sign, disappeared.