The Wonderful Wood, A Mirror
Wicked men are always abducting the young. A cruel landlord likes to ride hunting them who were all sent off to safety if they could be. We withdraw from the streaming moment. But not everyone could afford to send their children away.
Our openness to unfinished distance
One lived with her grandmother who was not well. In a lonely cottage she can’t go, nowhere to go and no one to send her. Every space between people and things her hazard. Certainly, the world we find is not reassuring. Qualities, bodies, and time. They were too poor, so they hid in the cottage where they earned their bread through piecework and spinning. The only world. They work with their hands in the cottage near a wonderful wood no one dares go into.
Light reflected in the open stream
One market day, the granny was too sick to travel, and the girl had to go alone to sell their hanks of wool alone. They cried. It was not safe to go, but what choice was there? They had nothing to eat. The world we find. The unfinished one. So, they cry some more, and bless one another, and then the granny makes the girl promise to stick to the public roads and not to take any shortcut through the too wonderful wood.
The unfinished wood
And she did go and stick to the public roads with storm clouds of wool on her back. Then, cresting a hill, she caught sight of the cruel landlord riding below her. The girl is calm. The still moment which is the same world. Sunlight just blinks through the overstory, dust hangs in it. She walked through the wood, bowing her head to the great oak tree, and she walked through the wood.
A still clearing wood song
The cruel landlord opened his mouth to call out to her kindly, and all he could manage were curses for the great oak, for the girl, for the opening wood. A discontinuous series of states. A history. A different one. His own unfinished wood. The tree addresses the landlord. The great oak called the cruel landlord by his name which was a groan and a summons to the other trees in the wood to close ranks.
Woods in the vast hazard, blinking
Aaron McCollough is the author of six books of poetry: Welkin (Ahsahta Press, 2002), Double Venus (Salt, 2003), Little Ease (Ahsahta Press, 2006), No Grave Can Hold My Body Down (Ahsahta Press, 2011), Underlight (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), and Rank (Kuhl House / University of Iowa Press, 2015). Along with Karla Kelsey, he publishes SplitLevel Texts and, occasionally, the SplitLevel Journal. He went to school for many years and credentials. He works outside the academy and sometimes on its outskirts. He lives with Suzanne Chapman in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they were raised.