TWO STORIES by BRIAN MICHAEL BARBEITO
The Forest and the Inner Sanctum
We went to the farther place and drive up the way and slowly and steadily parked as the snow began to let out from the opaque and late afternoon sky. We had left behind for the time the infrastructure of the streets and roads, of the city as it were, and also the social and person oriented network of such a place and places. Having traded buildings for long wooden fences, psychic discord and ambition and the secular for flaxen fields and Pines and the wind and open air, we began...
Inside the forest paths the walkways are as skating rinks because hey have not melted and are therefore difficult to navigate. That is part of the reason we went to the larger fields. For their exposure to the sun, uni obscured by branch and leaf, they are adorned with melted or rather normative paths. Walking there one begins to feel better by the moment no matter what ails. And, if nothing is ailing a soul, that soul can feel inspired, endowed with awe, and gain some unspoken insight into things small but also things as large as existence.
The snow began in a sort of earnest and marrying the branches and logs, the strand winter flowers and chaparral, the craggy ricks and even their crevices where sometimes moss grows or lines begin out like capillaries in the stone. Feeling fine and daring and healthy and alive, we played and watched, mused and smelt and gazed around some more. We were emperors of nature. Joyful phantoms come to life in the fields and nearby plateaus that wait hidden at the ends surrounded by trees and summits and ridgeways as they are.
We went back to the deeper places where nobody hardly travels. There it was even more peaceful and though it looked like the rest of the forest their were new configurations of trees to look at, different walkways labyrinthine and mystical, and I noticed something surprising. I saw what looked like Chaga, a much sought after mushroom said to have medicinal qualities galore, and usually made into a tea in order to consume it was not on birch trees or silver birch trees. Being a Chaga enthusiast, I have now looked at a lot of birch trees over the years. Some through discolouration or large growth or shade, age, decay, or other can appear to be other trees, especially at the bottom parts. Yet, I looked and looked and looked. Definitely Chaga, 110%, but not Birches. Odd. I had read somewhere that sometimes as rare as it is it can grow on another type of tree. I couldn't help but think it was part and parcel of this magical part of the hidden forest.
I stayed there as long as I could. I enjoyed the wind and the growing ground snow and the white falling from the firmament somewhere above the tree line. It was blanketing the branches and the interestingly shapes Chaga and the always spry and adroit and verdant pines. Something was and is sacred and quiet, wild and alluring, mystical and calling, magical and subtle, pure and precious about that area beyond the areas.
Soon dusk began to announce itself and we began the way out of there and along the paths up and up towards the fields. We had seen some of the forest secrets and felt her life giving presence and wonderful persistence. We were somehow more sagacious for having been there to her inward sanctum.
The Wind is the Ocean and How to Fall in Love with a Forest
Today the wind was no different than the sound the Atlantic Ocean used to make in Pompano when the high tide was in at night or a storm had announced itself in the day.
Loud but Soothing
I walked with my canines for two hours and we passed the verdant valley, the abandoned car, the strange feral shrubs, and many other things besides.
For long minutes we paused near feed corn fields and groupings of thick pine trees that received the wind and moist misty air. The clouds were thick with themselves and the world was far away. There were little streams and on the sides, flaxen growths. In the inner forest sanctuaries lived some winter mushrooms and impossibly green moss laden boulders and logs.
It's been five years hiking nearly every single day. It was two in a half years in when there was a big shift, a spiritual click and chemistry. It went like this: though you walk and appreciate you are still an outsider, a visitor, and there may be however subtle it is, a tinge of worry or even loneliness...
One day, and I remember where it was and when it was, I went further and longer than usual and realized in an instant, a marvellous instant that can be likened to the sun coming over a summit suddenly, that I was more comfortable there, that I was in love there, that I had fallen in sync there, that I had married somehow 'there,' and that though it not be valued in any Gross National Product, I had found in a large sense a calling.
I was not alone.
Gaia. morning moon. Spring sun. major magician Arcana. Mother Earth. Autumnal breeze and leaf. Sprites and devas and ridges and craggy ways. Wildflowers and chaparral.
For better or worse a nature poet is borne. What's that?
It's the wind.
It's the sound of the ocean if my youth come back to see me again.
Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian poet and photographer. Recent work appears at Fiction International and CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing.