Thank you for asking me to contribute. ‘Woodland Path’ is one of my first poems since coming back to writing, so I thought it would be an appropriate choice for my first foray into posting my writing online! It connects significant stages in life with a season, reflected through imagery and perspective when spending time in the same place. I’ve included a brief outline of each verse at the end of the poem to give you an insight into what I wanted to achieve.
I hope you and your readers enjoy it!
I am five.
Mother’s cord stretches through long summer days.
Mischief travels the path.
We look for monsters in caves of green leaves.
Rustle. Crack. I falter.
A wink from the water draws me in.
Forbidden darkness squeezes ‘til I’m small,
and wraps me in its cool breath.
I am grown,
We swap kisses under the tree.
I taste salt on your lips.
Wishes and secrets drop with each leaf,
falling onto my face.
I open my eyes,
see the water through the trees.
But we follow the well trodden track.
I am lost.
Struck by naked Sun,
cold ashes buzz around my head like flies.
Above me, black twisted branches stretch to trap the birds;
screams puncture my ears.
I force myself along the stark corridor,
and face myself in the water.
I am waiting.
I run my hand along the wrinkled bark;
stroke the bud that pierces its skin.
A soft tear opens and stings me awake.
Blood feeds the air and I hold it tight.
I am drawn to the water still edged with ice.
I travel further along the path,
hoping to be taken back to myself.
© JM Stevens 2013
Woodland Path – Summary
It’s summer and the five year old narrator is tempted to explore forbidden places. “Mischief travels the path” and after some trepidation, the woods take on a maternal feel and the child feels safe.
There’s temptation again when describing first love in autumn. Falling leaves are a letting go of expectations due to a decision to follow the accepted route of society. A commitment is made, despite a realisation that “the well trodden track” may not be the best path.
The relationship ends. Winter is depicted through the bareness of the imagery and is used as a backdrop for the emotions and mental condition of the narrator.
Spring is a natural setting for recovery and is used to symbolise renewal. Sense of touch, combined with personification of the tree, evokes just the start of re-awakening for the narrator.