I was lost in a dark forest.
How I got there, I do not know. It might’ve been because I drove my truck into that ravine. It might’ve been because I neglected to fire my safety flare into the air and instead ate an entire baggy of peyote buttons. Who’s to say? I tried following the North Star, knowing that, if I walked long enough, I’d be able to ask Santa Claus for directions. The canopy above made that impossible, though. I moved about aimlessly only pausing long enough to make a crude stone ax using a stainless steel ax that I had in my backpack.
Suddenly, I was aware of the presence of a mountain lion who seemed to be stalking me from just out of sight. I remembered what my father had told me about large cats. He said to me, “Son, lions are just as afraid of you as you are of jellybeans”. Confusing, yes. But, he’d just finished a baggy of peyote buttons. I’d always been told, in the event of a confrontation with a puma, make myself as large as possible. Unfortunately, I’d need a lot of pie to do that and all I had were the three. As I warily moved forward, I’d see the glowing yellow eyes in my periphery.
I decided to make a run for it, downhill, in the hopes that he was one of those pumas that gravity had no effect on. As I ran, branches slapping me in the face, I could hear underbrush behind me being crushed. I could see a clearing up ahead. I hurried my pace because, if I could just get to the sunlight, I might be able to get a tan while the lion ate me.
I got to the clearing and turned to face the animal. I had been hoping the entire time that it was a metaphor for something, but metaphors don’t have quite so many teeth. I pulled my crude stone ax from my backpack because I didn’t want to get blood all over the steel one. The lion was not impressed. He started circling me, eyeing me like I was a plate of whatever mountain lions eat. My life flashed before my eyes and I resigned myself to death… but, THEN…
A thin pale man stepped out of the brush and stood between myself and the beast. “Begone, lion!”, he commanded. The lion stood his ground and eyed him warily. “Okay… if you’re going to stick around, I’d like to get your opinion on something I’ve just—”. But, the mountain lion was gone.
I was overcome with gratitude, but a lot of that might’ve been the peyote. “I have to thank you”, I said, extending my hand, “Are you a woodman or hermit?”. He took my hand in his.
“I’m a poet”, he said. And, just like that, I found myself missing the mountain lion. “You are in a dangerous place and we must get you to safety, where you can eat, drink and read some of my poetry”
“Can we do it without my having to read your poetry?”
He gave me a quick smile and replied, “Who would win in a race: You or a mountain lion?”
“I’d love to read your poems”
“And, be sure to give me your honest opinion”