THE DAY MILLICENT FOUND THE WORLD
Every morning Millicent ventured farther
into the woods. At first she stayed
near light, the edge where bushes grew, where
her way back appeared in glimpses among
dark trunks behind her. Then by farther paths
or openings where giant pines had fallen
she explored ever deeper into
the interior, till one day she stood under a great
dome among columns, the heart of the forest, and knew:
Lost. She achieved a mysterious world
where any direction would yield only surprise.
And now not only the giant trees were strange
but the ground at her feet had a velvet nearness;
intricate lines on bark wove messages all
around her. Long strokes of golden sunlight
shifted over her feet and hands. She felt
caught up and breathing in a great powerful embrace.
A birdcall wandered forth at leisurely intervals
from an opening on her right: “Come away, Come away.”
Never before had she let herself realize
that she was part of the world and that it would follow
wherever she went. She was part of its breath.
Aunt Dolbee called her back that time, a high
voice tapering faintly among the farthest trees,
“Milli-cent! Milli-cent!” And that time she returned,
but slowly, her dress flutterhing along pressing
back branches, her feet stirring up the dark smell
of moss, and her face floating forward, a stranger’s
face now, with a new depth in it, into the light.