I came to the valley, and when I looked up,
I could barely see the sun.
It was shrouded by leaves, and the tree’s canopy,
whose trunks stood at attention.
They were black and tall, and to me seemed uncaring
what little I knew at the time.
They glowered down at me, just waiting to see
me blunder, and announce my grave crimes.
But there in the wildwood where I now stood
I knew enough about the valley,
to know I couldn’t long stay in that dark and menacing place,
as the shadows crept in all around me.
They seemed to be alive, as I peered into the black,
until they became more like specters.
They’d dance and they’d shine and soon I would find
I’d become like a bee to their nectar.
“So the rumors are true!” I said to myself
remembering my Pop long ago
He said “Son you take care, and say all your prayers
before you set sail on Argo.
“There are some strange things out there, for men like yourself
who hunt for pleasure and adventure.
Beware of the shadows, and stick to the meadows,
where earth’s soft grass cloaks her.
How inviting they might seem, but push them out of your dreams
or they’ll destroy you like the city Babylon.
Once caught on they’re awful hard to run from
and they’ll drag you clear down to Avalon.”
Though his words I did heed, I will have to concede
I was pulled off of the straight and narrow.
I frolicked and frolied, and became quite an addict,
to the fruit on the trees in the shadows.
It was silly and sweet and it seemed nothing could beat
the fun I could have in the woods.
But the sun was still there, glimmering through leaden air
a reminder of my old livelihood.
I used search for treasures, and I would find adventures,
until I set out to climb
the peak of Temporial, the highest mountain around
and see the whole world with my eyes.
Through the dark valley I was forced to go,
to get to the base of the mountain,
and begin my ascension and start my dissension
from the earth so corrupt and so wanton.
All was going well and my pack it felt light
‘till I got to that place in the valley.
The road disappeared and my path it veered
intercepted by the dark shadowed army.
They can’t be seen by man or by beast,
they’re invisible to the naked eye.
But they’re intoxicating effect is felt none the less.
I’d felt nothing before of that kind.
Under their influence my eyes seemed confused,
and the black slowly faded to grey
until soon the moon appeared brighter at noon
and the sun stared down it’s dark prey.
I had no incentive to get up and haul out
since dark had changed to light.
But something inside me kept screaming and shouting
to get to the other side.
For quite a while I found that I could ignore
those voices inside my head.
But each day I would see no change in me
and so I started to pretend.
I pretended my eyes were seeing the truth
and I had no idea light was dark.
It didn’t take long before the pretending was gone
and a spark went out in my heart.
As I moved on, from campsite to campsite
my pack always heavier seemed.
It became filled with curios and trinkets
and things that I’d never need.
On the horizon, still I could see that mountain
standing in front of me
But to me it seemed so out of reach
and so I got down on my knees.
I said “Pop this is daring, to dare to come back
after all that I’ve said and done.
But I pray that you’ll hear me, in your mercy spare me
and heft some of my burden.”
And so I got up determined to find
my way out of the valley.
And climb to the top of that mountain
never looking back behind me.
I never wanted to see that forest again
I wanted to get to the base
of the Mountain Temporial, and look back on life
having conquered all my mistakes.
And so I set out over roots and ‘round ruts
making my way through the valley.
But as I walked by I swear I could hear
the army of shadows around me.
As I kept on they became more and more real
until I could hear them most clearly.
their words reverberated through the thick air
I would’ve given anything not to hear them.
But I kept trudging on, hoping soon they’d be gone
but their voices only grew louder
Until they rang in my ears, yes their shrieking was clear
“Give up! You’re nothing but a coward.”
I tripped and I fell, and I cut myself
but I knew I had to press on
I knew if I didn’t, I’d never get out
and never see the light of dawn.
But even as that thought ran it’s way through my head
I couldn’t bring myself to get up
I was too weak and my pack was too heavy
I couldn’t drink that cup.
So I grasped the clasp of my heavy pack
and tried with all my might to stand.
My vision blurred and I became dizzy
I looked up and said “I just can’t.”
“I’m too weak, I’m too helpless
and I’ve failed so many times,
but please Father, I beg for your help
I’ll try my hardest all of the time.”
I attempted to stand, caught my balance with my hand
against a last remaining tree.
It burned a little against my flesh,
inflicting injury I could not see.
I pulled it away, pain gave my hand haste
and I turned my back to the wood.
Then turned ‘round and just in case
carved a message in the tree that there stood.
“Turn ‘round now!” I wrote with daft strokes
“Or you’ll never reach your destination,
don’t get up your hopes that you’re stronger than most
or this will begin your cremation.
You’ll burn though you won’t feel it at first
from the inside out it will come
and for a long while you can’t tell that it hurts
and to it’s elation you will succumb.
Until all that is left of you is ashes
black as coal you will have turned
so turn ‘round now before your will clashes
with this forest I have sojourned”
I left my knife in that tree for all who passed to see
and then I looked up to the mountain.
I set my eyes to the task, and my heart to the peak
while every step I was counting.
Before I knew it I was half way there
though I’d slipped and fallen a few times
I didn’t feel bad for my sorry self|
I picked myself up and climbed.
I came to step one-thousand-three-hundred-and-two
and I brought my head up for a breath,
but my lungs were frozen as the sun came through
expelling the darkness of death.
It spread out across fields and valleys below
as lakes smiled back up at me
I sat down real slow afraid the wind would blow
and the scene would never again be
I leaned back, against what I did not know
enjoying the incredible view
and then saw not so far down below
a man covered in black and blue.
I jumped up to help him, and as I stood up
I hit my head against a branch
I realized there stood a tree covering me
but unlike any I’d ever seen.
Unlike the others it was not pointed or black
it seemed kind and strong and caring
I looked up, and had to stand back
to see the breadth of its trunk declaring:
“I offer shade and rest, and fruit the best
reprieve from the journey you’re on.
After this climb you’ll wear on your breast
the proof of a battle won.”