Today, the prompt is to use a first line from someone else’s poem and write your own poem from there. I found a poem by Tim Prior in CV2 Winter 2012 that I had dogeared for future reference. This was not quite the poem I was intending to write using his poem as inspiration. At least, not at the time I dogeared it. But here is what came when I started to write.
Who’s Afraid in the Big Bad Woods?
What do you fear in the woods
when the trees fold their branches around you
closing out the sky, when the sun no longer
warms you with her soft touch and the path
twists again and again till you’re confused,
and have lost your way?
Is it the sound of reeds drumming on hollow logs,
hoofbeats of horses that galloped these woods until
their riders were never seen again? Is it the warping
of the light, how it filters through leaves, the distortion
of time and place, or the fear of darkness at the end of day
the path no longer seen?
Is it the heartbeat pounding in your chest,
choking out each breath as you climb the same hill
for the third time in an hour? Is it the chiming of a distant
steeple, heard but not seen, its song sung in a minor key,
a dissonance falling harshly on the ear, as it announces
the lateness of the hour
Is it the stories remembered from childhood,
a girl in a red cloak, a clever wolf, a horseman
riding headless at midnight, banshees and children
who meet old women with ovens and appetites,
and you—you have come to these woods, forgetting
your pocketful of crumbs?
Carol A. Stephen
April 10, 2012