On Being Out of the Woods, BY ERIN RODONI
They don't tell you the woods are like the universe:
Infinite, and expanding. There is no getting out.
You can only weave between the trees. Outrun
the cones exploding into growth. The compass spins,
dear so-and-so. Branches blacker than night
smack the guiding star about, an errant firefly.
They don't tell you the woods are like the past:
Haunted, and evergreen. There is no forgetting.
To forgive is to move. Away or toward? Memory,
eyes in the dark. Memory, a clearing. Dear so-and-so,
as you may have guessed, to be wood-bound is to be
bound to every risk. May the wolf howl only
in the distance, the rustling be but the waking
of owls in the gables of dusk. Born to hunt,
reared on luck. They don't say the woods
will make you prey. May the wings slapping above
be but fruit bats, sugar-seekers with no lust for blood.
It's okay to pray. Defenseless, you fill with reverence:
These wedded roots, the leaf-strung lute, the wind
that strums the same damned seasons, cyclic
and scything. To breathe is to feel the dead inside you
rising. Dear so-and-so, let me tell you, the woods
are like love. The most beautiful place
you'll ever be. And terrifying.
Erin Rodoni is the author of two poetry collections: Body, in Good Light (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017) and A Landscape for Loss (NFSPS Press, 2017), winner of the Stevens Award. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbird, Poetry Northwest, and The Rumpus. She has been the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award, a Ninth Letter Literary Award, the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize, and has been included in Best New Poets.