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What the Forest Said

June 12, 2009

Tell me.

Which part?

All of it. Any of it. Just—something vivid.

I was walking.


And there were two deer.


Yes, whitetails, flashing alarm. They heard the dog. I didn’t tell him; he was looking for a good stick, something nice to throw. The deer flipped their tails and danced away. I could see reflections of yellow beech leaves in the eye of one of them, turned toward me: she was that close.

Tell me another.

I don’t know what to tell you.




Six or seven of them, exploding from the underbrush with wing-beats so loud I ducked. The dog ran so fast he ran right out of the orange t-shirt I put on him to differentiate him from bear.


It’s bear season. They’re shooting bears.


He treed them.

The bears?

The bobwhites. They were furious.

I bet he was proud.

Very proud.

You’re going to leave, aren’t you.



Probably. There isn’t much left.

There is. There could be—


One more. Tell me one more.

Once I walked into the woods and there was only one way: further in. I walked and walked, and I was fierce and beautiful and brave and resourceful and I had many adventures, but I was getting tired. Very tired. I couldn’t walk any more, finally; I couldn’t be fierce and beautiful and resourceful and brave any more. Also? I was bored with myself. With all of it. I dug a fire-pit, lined it with stones. I gathered wood, and made a fire. I was so hungry, but I had nothing to eat and I was too tired to do anything else, so I sat by the fire and watched the flames. I figured I’d probably die of starvation eventually, but really, the flames felt good and I couldn’t think what else to do. A stag came out of the forest, walked right up to the edge of the fire across from me. We looked at each other for a long time, and I thought: how beautiful. After a while, he lay down across the fire and split himself open, his blood steaming in the coals. I ate his flesh, and was restored.

That didn’t happen.



I saw a peregrine eat a bat today.


You’re going, aren’t you.

I’m going.

I have an idea.


When I go, just look away.


Now? Should I look away now?

by Jessamyn Smyth

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  1. Karen
    June 12, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    The final silence, coupled with the title, is very effective.

  2. June 13, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Beautiful Jessamyn, beautiful

  3. June 13, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Thank you, Karen and Allan. Glad you liked it.

  4. June 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Somehow, I knew this was yours from the first lines.

  5. June 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Oh. Terrific!

  6. June 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Beautiful. The pacing in this is perfect.

  7. June 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Thanks, all, for the comments!

    I’m glad this piece works out of its context in a larger manuscript.

  8. July 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Jess, you know I love this one…

  9. Charlie
    September 17, 2009 at 12:58 am

    I love the use of single dashes on lines to increase pauses. And beautifully, seductively read!

  1. May 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm
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