A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Unicorn

When I was young,
I sought her
because of her wonder,
that was all that mattered.

When I grew older,
I hunted her
for beauty’s sake,
wanting it for myself.

As a man,
I wanted her
for what she could offer me,
a legend of my own,
immortality perhaps.

I hardly knew what to do,
when I finally caught up
with her, one day at sunset
drinking from a cool, clear pool
in the heart of The Deepwoods.

We wrestled for a time,
but eventually,
I broke her,
tying her to an ancient elm,
with silver rope,
as legend proscribed.

She told me all
the secrets of her kind.

When she was done,
I ground her horn
into my satchel
and drained her blood
into my flask,
through all of which,
she was alive
to preserve potency,
just as I had read
in the ancient texts.

When I emerged
out of The Deepwoods,
I told no one of my kill
and no one laughed
when I quit the hunt,
putting away childish things.

I prospered much from that day,
in my mixing and dealings.

But as an old man,
I see her now in my dreams,
beckoning for me
to join her in the pool,
a dark glint in her eyes.

I wonder what
she wants from me.

I see her sometimes,
even when I am awake,
a brilliant white streak
at the edge of my vision…

But I am too old to be hunted,
aren’t I?

A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: J.R. Westermont

In the summer of 1882,
Jonathan Reginald Westermont
millionaire philanthropist
and big game hunter
bought several parcels of land
containing a dense forest
in the American Pacific Northwest.

The next Spring,
he hired a team of
former military men,
adventurers and survivalists
who he took into the woods
on what he called,
“a kind of training exercise”

That night,
while the team made camp,
he told them a story,
one about an endless forest,
with creatures no one
had ever seen before,
a place that defied size and nature,
with some lost civilization at its heart.
Most of the men laughed at this idea.

The next morning Westermont was gone.

Abandoned, the team tried
to find their way out of the woods,
but upon discovering their markers destroyed,
quickly became disoriented,
the forest’s natural features
seeming to have shifted overnight
or in the case of many trailheads,
simply disappeared.

The team’s journals end there.

The only survivor, Tobias Briar,
a civil war veteran and surveyor
emerged six weeks later,
emaciated and half mad,
raving about a creature
that had hunted the men down
one by one as they tried to escape.

The man had been in the woods
for less than two months,
but claimed that he’d been lost
for over a year.

The incident was pinned on Westermont,
whom no one has seen or heard from since.

The papers put a heavy emphasis
on his time spent in an asylum as a youth
and his obsession with hunting,
one Boston publication going as far as to say:

“Westermont could not be happy,
unless he was hunting the most dangerous game.”

A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Deer & The Wolf

I spotted them from
the highest tower,
barely visible
amidst the falling snow.

First the deer,
dragging a broken
leg behind her,
her blood staining
the virgin ground.

Then the wolf,
lapping it up
as he followed.

The doe paid
me no mind,
but the wolf looked up
when he passed,
seeming to see me there…

The last man alive
in Castle Blackwold,
all alone,
locked in the highest tower,
amidst the falling snow.

A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Hunter

I will hunt you to the ends of the Earth.

And when you see me,
you will know that there is nowhere left to run.
I have hunted the animals in The Green
and I have killed them all;
what do you think am I going to do with you?

I wounded you once, in the snow,
you left a trail of blood behind you,
so that I would have your scent.
I would have caught you then,
but you lost me at the edge of
The Deepwoods.

And in that moment,
I realized that I loved you

you clever little beast…

I love you.

And I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.

A Year in The Deepwood

Deepwood: The Stream

Turtles gently roam
its sloping banks
passing sumac
growing red and wild,
while strange colored fish
whirl and spin in clear shallows,
in and around cattails and reeds
all growing uninterrupted.

Overhead, a large falcon follows
the corridor of trees,
that grow along this stream,
his summer shadow cast upon
the bed below,
shimmering darkly there among
the centuries smoothed stones,
the occasional arrowhead,
and one or two familiar looking
bones of unknown origin,
half buried
and entirely forgotten,
in the sand

and silt

and time.