Primeval Forest


His sister wandered off again
beyond the fence as swallows
looped in figure-eights, and Peter,
unable to see her anywhere,

rubbed his eyes and pirouetted.
A stream of ants flowed at his feet,
and he knelt down, turning his ear
to the ground as if listening

for foot steps, then he searched
for snakes in a tangle of roots
protruding from the stream bank.
He whistled and called her name,

realizing that he should worry,
then scrambled up the slope
to a high point at a confluence,
plopping down on a mossy rock

blanketed by oak leaves. He gazed
down at the path, sensing
a presence, sure his sister
was nearby, discovering only

a tapered stone in a mortar.
Pulling out the pestle, he found
a salamander flattened to the side
of the cup in the stone. Peter

Salamander in Mortar

grasped the pestle, sensing wetness
in the moss--suddenly certain
that someone was watching him.
In his mind's eye he saw a woman,

her hair winding down like streams,
a crown of moons in different
phases, a bobcat at her feet
and doves fluttering nearby,

her green robes gleaming with
gem-like flowers--behind her
a towering oak, the branches
like creeks, its trunk


like a river plunging into earth.
Peter squinted, glimpsing
a strange glow within the flowers
and rocks, as if every atom

resonated with the light
that shimmered from her pendant--
a golden, equal-armed cross.
Wondering if the strange woman

took his sister, Peter blinked
and suddenly the woman vanished.
"This must be some kind
of trick," Peter mused,

then he sprinted down the trail,
which seemed to snake, ancient
yet pristine, forever
through the hills. Finally

he whirled around, trying to recall
his way back, an unknown animal
scurrying across the path. A strange man
suddenly appeared on the path.

Go to the next path.
Follow the sister.
Meet the King of Wands.