A Girl Goes Into the Forest

Peg Alford Pursell

Tentative, curious, uncertain, alive, she followed him into the woods, moving in the direction where perhaps she imagined the rest of her life waited for her. So ready for something to happen. The old secret cottage had fallen to the ground. He acted as if that surprise of the disintegrated shelter were inconsequential, and spread a thin jacket over the dark forest floor for her. To lie down was harder than it looked to be; wasn’t everything? A thick scent of pine needles. Sour smell of mildewed ash. The moon rose. White and tiny, smeared into the fork of a naked branch overhead. Wind chattered like teeth through the trees, their trunks containing hundreds of years of memory. In this new dimension of light and shade, she lost track of who she’d been before, of the home in the town with cracked streets, concrete and glass, sun-scoured spires. Beside her, he said nothing. A troche on the tongue of the needful earth, she lay, thick thirsting roots deep underneath. This was something for the body to feel. There is so much for a body to feel before it goes, returns to its simplest elements, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur. Full night must eventually come on. Its deeper chill. They might remain. Together. It might turn summer and she’d have survived the season. Or the earth might be soothed, some want eased.


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