Chinese Mountain Man IV: The Mountain Wood

April 6, 2020

A sage and pupil made their way

Into a deep and darkened wood,

Searching and wandering 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 alpine trees of misty 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 un-phased by the boy’s laments,

The master stopped and calmly stood

Among the mountain pines, and said,

“There is no shortcut through this wood.”

 

David is a poet, translator and linguist based in Montreal.

 

Follow the Mountain Man series here.

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