She fled, though barely capable of sight
Through all her tears, and tore into the wood
That lay behind her uncle’s cabin. Night
Was falling fast, and though she knew she shouldn’t
Tempt the many dangers of the dark,
She’d not return—not to that undone
And lightless world behind her. But her stark
And staid aloneness couldn’t be outrun.
At length she fell upon the ground and cried,
Lamenting that her parents both had died.
She lay, supposing they would come for her,
Eventually, at least from obligation
To the dead. Would they comfort her,
She wondered; would they try? Her own relations
Should at least attempt to find her, love her,
Though she be a stranger in their home.
But would it matter? For she’d not recover
From this grief, she mused. And as the gloaming
Turned to night, and stars filled up the skies,
She doubted if the sun would ever rise.
But while she doubted dawn the moon arrived,
Completely full, attempting an impression
Of the sun. The ground then came alive,
As scattered pebbles caught the light’s attention,
Imitating flowers in the night.
And in the distance bits of mica shone
From such a mound of rocks, reflecting light
In just the right arrangement on the stones
To frame a sort of door, a passageway
Concealed from all the brighter light of day.
Seeking some distraction from her grief
She rose. In stories, elves devised such doors
Revealed by moonlight. Maybe underneath
She’d find a secret tunnel to explore.
And so she did. And stooping low she plunged
Into the deep recesses of the earth,
A hand upon the wall to guide her dungeon
Expedition. Unafraid, the dearth
Of light was naught to her—not now, at least—
All thoughts but curiosity had ceased.
At length her tunnel joined another way,
Which at a distance opened to a light
As if to validate the old cliché.
In this she stood entirely upright,
Though ankle-deep in water flowing down
The tunnel’s course. The stream proceeded toward
The moonlit opening, and there the sound
Of water falling couldn’t be ignored.
So hearkening unto the water’s call
She followed it and stood upon the falls.
There breathless she beheld the canyon under-
Neath her feet, some thirty feet below.
Her mouth agape, she looked with quickened wonder
At the world, silvered by the glowing
Moon. For somehow it was different, here,
Suspended on the falls. She sat, and scooted
Some to keep the water off her rear,
And waited for the morning. There is beauty
In the world, she knew for sure again;
And this, a balm to help her in her pain.
The years went by, and by degrees she grew—
By pains—sometimes several in succession,
Sometimes many felt at once. The view
Enjoyed alone atop the falls helped lessen
All these pains, make life a little sweeter.
Many times in need of solace she’d escape
To visit this inviolable retreat.
She grew, matured, a woman taking shape
Where once had been a child. Then at last
The tunnel slipped away into her past.
She leads him by the hand to where it starts,
Reveals the tunnel, leads him into this,
Into the deep recesses of her heart.
She stands again upon the precipice,
Her arms aloft and his about her waist,
And asks him, “Do you like it?” Yet a slip,
A tiny stumble could precipitate
Her fall. The slightest whisper from his lips
Has power now to push her over, or
To love her as he never could before.