Wood Nymphs

During midsummer, the forest has a different feel
to it than when the naked limbs shiver
needles free to blanket a desolate
winter floor.

My brother and I
trekked into the overgrowth–
the sun disappeared
behind our tanned backs,
and we hunted
for black berries that blossomed
wild and plump on thorny vines
we recognized as “prickers.”

Together we clambored
over decayed stumps and abandoned
beer cans strewn between weeds,
their metallic glisten the only
evidence of the world’s encroachment
into this sacred space.

We ascended boulders
with the ease of youth,
pressing forward towards
the creek flanking “the woods”

we claimed as ours, as we were
smart enough to understand
that its brambles and vines
and deer-dung piles had somehow
become inexorably entwined
with our summers.

Our brisk journey
made our adolescent lives
lighter, for it took us
momentarily away
from the threat of spiritual
dismemberment, far
from the distinct odor of vomit
in the bathroom’s pink toilet,
beyond adult voices that screeched
loud enough to cause

Here in the forest, at the edge
of what was our secret world
the crickets’ song and the whisper
from the creek’s fragrant eddies
enveloped and protected us
in the shade of majestic, ancient