The Forest of Glass
Each time she saw the forest of glass again, her soul would flutter. She recognized it from ancient days. It had seemed brighter, though, back in those days. Before she lost her heart. She really did. It wasn’t a matter of giving it away or anything like that. She simply lost it. Couldn’t find it anywhere.
She couldn’t find it in the wine she drank. She couldn’t find it in the fairy tales she read. It wasn’t in the mountain paths she walked. It wasn’t in the ocean waves she touched with expectant feet.
She couldn’t believe how easy it was to lose one’s heart in this dazzling world. She wondered if others had lost theirs too. It seemed likely. She noticed many people looking sad, especially the gentle ones. Nobody wanted to admit this of course. Everyone conducted business as usual, smiled, buttered bread, folded laundry.
A friend once asked her for love, and she ached because she had none to give. She wanted to hug her friend, partly in apology, partly in consolation. She decided it was best to keep quiet and act as though nothing troublesome was happening.
Once, too, she stood by a swimming pool watching young girls, especially a bight-eyed, dark-haired one. Every move this girl made, she checked if anyone was watching, and if they did, she gave them the sweetest of smiles. Meanwhile the boys were busy playing with their ball, whether anyone watched them or not.
Obey, obey, obey, insistent voices called to her. And when she did, she felt all the remaining leaves of memory tremble, dangerously close to breaking. Better to be cautious then, for always around the next corner, there beckoned the wispy promise of her heart, finally to be found, finally hers to keep. She walked sure-footed, counting squares on the sidewalk, or sometimes cobblestones, to keep herself entertained while marching forward, limping a bit on occasion.
Someone told her she was too intelligent for her own good. At first, she took this as a compliment. Then she noticed the shadows on the edge of the words. What was her own good? To go to work, of course. She had to eat. She earned her bread, she earned her butter, she worked hard for those who could afford her. She had become a ragged creature, rushing with her disappointments in her briefcase, getting on the bus each morning just in time. When she was obedient, it went well enough for everyone, including her. She slept in inexpensive lodgings, sometimes sharing them with spiders, and on occasion a mouse.
Around midnight, she often claimed a few minutes just before falling asleep to walk once again in the forest of glass with its relentless beauty. That’s where she found reflections of her heart in the shimmering, whispering leaves, before preparing for the next day’s exacting reality.
Beate Sigriddaughter, http://www.sigriddaughter.net, grew up in Nürnberg, Germany. Her playgrounds were a nearby castle and World War II bomb ruins. She lives in Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA, where she was poet laureate from 2017 to 2019. Her latest collections are short stories Dona Nobis Pacem (Unsolicited Press, December 2021) and poetry Wild Flowers (FutureCycle Press, February 2022).