Years ago our family lived near a wooded area where all of the kids in the neighborhood loved to explore and build forts and play, but the youngest among us wasn’t permitted to go there alone, for obvious reasons. The training was attested to by the little girl from next door who announced quite solemnly to my mom one day that her “mother always told [her] never to go into The Forest.” This little ditty is for Micki.
Don’t Go into the Forest
From long ago, our elders cautioned us
That in the wood there lurked a dreadful beast
Whose fangs were fiercely fine, and for whose feast
A hearty haunch of whole rhinoceros
Was scarce an appetizer, and the main
Entrée, a village full of soldiers, knights
And heroes snapped up, each, in single bites,
Made more delicious by their screams of pain.
Our fear of this stayed abstract, since the hurt
Inflicted, terrible enough, was made
For full-grown animals and men, which stayed
The doom from us—but then we learned dessert
Was Children, and we changed our minds, for good,