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The Other Side

My grandparents went into the woods
on the day I was born,
and blessed an infant tree they found,
naming it as my guardian twin.

Throughout my childhood I never knew
I was bound to something wild,
that grew through frost and winter storms,
raising many arms to distant light.

Then one day, when school was over,
grandma took me down to the woods.
She said a time of change had come,
that I was turning into a man.

We found grandpa working there,
splitting the tree with a curved iron blade.
They stripped me naked, pulled the split apart
and gently pushed me through.

They poured cold water over me,
then bound the tree with white rags,
and told me childhood was left behind
forever, on the other side.

I hung around the tree a lot at first,
feeling abandoned and out of place,
and worried about the time ahead.
The tree healed, its bandages rotted away,

and it became like other trees,
except its bark was scarred for me.
Then I met a girl, and travelled far with her.
But I never forgot, and always returned

when major changes touched my life,
times of grief or celebration, and felt
a special union with the other side.
Once when a very dark time came

I wanted to open the tree once more
and crawl back through, but I knew deep down
that unless the slit was cut the same way
I’d find myself in some other place.

Now that I am very old and another change
is near, I often visit my guardian tree.
How massive it’s become these recent years,
joined at last to the sky above.

Soon I will enter my heart’s house and lock
the door behind. I’ll climb the creaky forest stairs,
and slip through the gap where the light
seeds the silence on the other side.
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