I read that popular book, once upon a time, about women running about with wolves. Remember it? Clarissa Pinkola Estes authored it. Guess what? I still like it. I like the idea of the wild feminine. That aspect of being female that’s free, fierce and fabulous. Free of culture, free of expectations, free of limits and you-should-be. That little girl who leaves the path and discovers…so many thing she didn’t know or was told she had to fear. I believe we’re getting into motif time. Into mythology and what it teaches us. That sometimes the wolf will devour us and we will enjoy it. That sometimes life slicks us with fire and wonder and sorrows so profound we cannot return to our previous shapes. That our bodies belong to us, what a strange and frightening notion to so many…That we can laugh as loud as we want. That we can laugh and laugh and laugh.
I have forgotten that boldness lately. My thoughts are chaotic. Clustered around a sad plastic tree, limp little ornaments I try to pass off as something more than resigned fury. I rip off masks, so I tell myself, yet there be walls, trenches, and moats beneath. My defenses have become legion. My fur, as they say, is worn on the inside. Yet I never range about in my wolf form to howl love songs to the giggling silver face of the moon. I am huddled on that fabled path, always the caterpillar, never the goddess. No metamorphosis seems to be forthcoming. I’ve forgotten every miniscule victory; every hurt allowed to break inside my soul like a rotted egg, every hurt, every last little tiny hurt.
And there she is. That brazen girl stepping into the wild timothy, seeking the source of that chattering water-over-stones melody…
SHE ENTERS THE FOREST
She enters the forest, this girl.
This bold girl with her living heart.
Stay on the path, they warned her.
Stay on the path
or you’ll be lost.
Come home and we’ll sing to you
the old songs you know
and smile to in your sleep.
But I want to be lost, she said.
I want to wander in those trees
and pick bluebells
in the shadows of the beeches.
No, they shuddered at her.
Return home to the niceness of
warm soup and pretty tasks
performed and completed and started
all over again.
But I wish to see
the chuckling brown stream
I can only hear.
I wish to sniff its waters
and catch turtles sunning on
That water running over my ankles
as I chase frogs to their muddy heavens.
That welcoming water
that calls and calls to me.
Stay on the path, they screamed.
Or something bad will get you.
They touch her with kind chains
and kiss her face with breath
that stinks of sweet dungeons.
She enters the forest
and turns her head to the right
where a shadow
slips from tree to tree.
Her breath enters the world
tasting of salt and blood and bone.
She pretends her breath tastes of bread and butter
and nice little corners full of tidy small dreams.
I will try to please them, I will try, she thinks.
Shadows in shadows in shadows.
Each step covers her feet
in dust and twigs.
That stream chuckles.
She can see the cerulean hint
just there oh just there.
I am not a good girl.
over her shoulder toward
the anxious eyes awaiting her return.
Forgive me, I think
I’ll need forgiving.
I think this is unforgivable.
I hope so.
She lets the shadows walk at her side.
Her hands run over the rough bark
and pluck the wild timothy strands
to fill the savage little spaces of her heart.
She crushes the cups
of the bluebells
on the forbidden skin of her thighs
and she laughs she laughs she laughs.
It’s just flowers and skin,
she tells the shadows.
My skin is mine, it’s my skin it’s mine.
That chuckling stream welcomes her
and the sunning turtles pretend
she is nothing to fear.
The wolves come for a drink.
She tries to become a shadow,
oh that she had stayed on that path
oh that she had stayed hidden,
that they were right.
The wolves come for a drink and she hides,
scented with timothy and crushed bluebells
and gentle chains
bites her so gently
teeth chuckling teeth chuckling yes
she lets her
world oh the world she invented
mingle with the crushed bluebells
on her thighs
and she drinks from that stream
and remains to wander in that forest
as they look for her
to this day.