Stop what you are doing.
Put that device down,
that newspaper, that book.
Stop that habitual litany of discontent
at your partner, your children,
the state of the world.
Place your cup onto the table
and leave your daily bread uneaten.
Come with me. Yes, in your slippers
and your dressing gown. Follow me
out along this path, deep into the forest.
What do you mean,
‘There wasn’t a forest here yesterday!’
It was definitely here. Mist-hidden, intangible
and yesterday you were still sleeping.
Don’t complain about the brambles and the damp!
This is how many adventures begin;
with much mud and some confusion.
Nearly there. Across this brook and past
a stand of silver birch full of small birds,
to the grove of benevolent oaks.
Here we are! Here is the storyteller’s fire.
Find your place. For early as it is,
many are arriving, some bemused and shyly smiling.
Swathing themselves in shawls and blankets.
Sharing benches and log seats with strangers.
Some are still grumbling. Disgruntled and sour.
The restless fidgeting stills, the whispers cease.
The storyteller is come.
The story carrier; the bringer of tales.
She will take you further on the path
than you have ever dared to travel.
To the tundra, to the desert, the darkest forests.
To the furthest edges of dangerous places.
There may be giants, wee folk,
talking animals, royalty and pauper.
She takes you to find the wild and the tame.
The wolf, the raven and the milk-giving cow.
The hag-queen cackles her way
onto the stage, wearing a dress of human skins.
Her tusks gleaming in the firelight.
Both the noble and the foolish inhabit
these realms of myth and magic.
The innocent are often slain and revived
with the power of love and longing.
The story finds its place in you;
holding up its mirrors until it finds you.
You are revealed and wide awake.
Tearful and jubilant in turns
as you find your way home.
Stumbling back to your creaking door.
You are shivering; your clothing is torn and
you cannot begin to count your scars.
Your mouth is full of moss and blood.
Your eyes are full of celestial light and shadows.
Your heart is full of fire and vision.
And nothing is the same.
There is your cup, still steaming on the table
The fridge still rattles and hums.
Your loved ones are eating their porridge and toast.
Wait…is that the glint of a polished tusk
reflected in the eye of an owl in the corner?
And could it be? Was that not just a trick of the morning light
that caused the kitchen clock to wink?
(c) Kate Gold January 2020
* Image - The Storyteller from the Chrysalis Tarot by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks