Maybe "out of the woods"

isn't out of the trials.

No one speaks of what waits beyond.

What could be lurking,

starving,

oh–so–eager.

Maybe it's shadows

with ragged fingers

and begging,

hollow,

eyesockets.

Couldn't you just spare them a look?

They're craving a view of the sun.

You even have an eye to lend.

Two.

And a tasty heart.

You should help.

They ask so nicely.

They need them more than you do.

Maybe it's soldiers

with weapons ready

and conviction drawn.

Unwavering aim at your throat.

So eager to spill blood

from the neck of the woods.

You're not innocent.

You don't know the rules here.

One misstep away from becoming a rusty stain

they scrub off their fingernails.

They laugh at how you screamed.

Crawling to the trees like a baby to a mother who lost her way

before she could teach you how to find.

You only hide.

You never seek.

Or worst,

Maybe loved ones are waiting.

Ones you can't face

But you picture theirs

Ones you don't deserve.

Not anymore.

But dear gods did you love them.

You hope they know.

You hope they forget your name.

You wonder if they even went looking.

ㅤㅤ

You wonder how deep roots grow outside of the forest.

ㅤㅤ

Maybe when you're out of the woods,

It's best to turn back in.

Home in the arms of tree boughs.

Your hair tangled

in a wrestle of damp leaves.

A canopy above you.

Solid dirt beneath.

ㅤㅤ

Fog in your throat, a storm in your chest, mist in your eyes,

here, you claw off biting flies and shriek until the words die

because

a mockery of sanctuary exists in familiarity.

ㅤㅤ

It's cruel.

But it's safety.

So yes,

you think you'll stay in the woods.

Seek comfort in melancholy's cradle.

Guide the occasional wanderer.

But never leave.

Never out of the woods.