It still haunts me to this day,
Those awful words:
“Go into the forest if you dare.”

The phrase lingered in the meadows
And lurked among the wildflowers,
A light-hearted joke delivered in vain laughter—
That’s all it ever was—until I was in exile . . .

The foxes I once called my friends
Would prance and cackle around the shadowy border.
And I—being but a curious blue bird—
Would join in their shameless revels.

We were rebels for the label’s sake,
Telling fibs and fables to the other creatures
For the sinister pleasure of seeing them shiver
As we told our tall tales in the dark.

One day my heart began to shun our fictions,
And I grew to despise our recklessness.
So with malice on their minds, the foxes cast me out from their skulk,
Leaving me defenseless in the phantom branches of the forest.

In the midst of the eternal night of evergreens,
I heard their fiendish howls echo across the border,
Bouncing like boomerangs off the branches
Which scratched at and snared my broken wings.

My tears—puddling on the forest floor—were my nourishment.
I was abandoned and unlovable, longing for a speck of light.
The man on the moon turned his face from me in disappointment.
Even the stars seemed to dim when they beheld me.

At last I saw a flicker resurrect from the grave of night,
And it gave the horizon the color of King Midas’s touch.
When the Sun arose, He said, “Go home, little one.”
And He mended my wounded wings in the shadow of His.

Then the prison bars of bark lifted their leafy curtains
To reveal the familiar terrain of wildflower meadows.
Emerging from the woods, I flew to the edge to face my betrayers,
And I recalled those foolish words we spoke ever so often:

“Go into the forest if you dare.”
Well, I did.
And the funny thing is, I survived.