Chinese Mountain Man IV: The Mountain Wood
A sage and pupil made their way
Into a deep and darkened wood.
They searched and wandered places
Where for years no traveler would.
The underbrush, the damp-cool swamps
And thorny vines entailed their climb;
And countless unknown fruits hung from
The trembling trees of alpine climes.
“One must be cautious when he treads
The mountain wood,” the master said,
“This place is seldom journeyed through—
Its paths the city people dread.”
Time after time the frightened boy
Would ask, “Master, are we soon there?”
“The climb is bitter but the fruits
Are sweet,” was all the sage declared.
The trek went on for many days
Without a destination reached.
The student’s eyes filled with despair—
The forest had been barely breached.
But after many haunted moons,
And after many darkened trails
The student’s eyes filled with sheer dread
Like those of men whose strength soon fails.
Though unfazed by the boy’s laments,
The master stopped and calmly stood
Amid the forest mists, and said,
“There is no shortcut through this wood.”
David is a poet, translator and linguist based in Montreal.