Telltale snap of broken tree limbs betrayed
Trespasser approaching secluded stream,
Blurred motion edge of sight, hard descent,
Thick spruces concealed my bathing place,
Sunlit broad stone, ankle-deep water flowed,
Downward cascading to cool, clear swimming
Pool. Oblivious to worry or shame, I bathed
Nude, in summer, water shivering cold. On
Sun-warmed stone I slept, soothing sound
of rambling stream, forest birds bathing.
Awakened, presence felt, watchful eyes,
Weary or admiring I knew not which, yet
They persisted from spruces dark, more
Stick-snapping steps. “All who approach
Must be unclad, hair undone, unabashed
In summer sun,” I announced aloud. “What
Offerings do you bring? Prayers and praise
To ancient gods?” I added. By such invita-
Tions hearts are known, sincere or curious,
One may enter, or in silence, disappear.
Branches unfolding, from vine-ensnared
Laurel boughs, pale arms, legs emerged,
Woodland sprites, small divinities, voices
Melodious sang to me: “We are neither vision
Nor dream, visiting life-giving sacred springs.”
Waist height, Sweet Ones, diminutive hands,
Feet, offerings of fresh-picked blooms upon
Flowing waters placed, they bathed in quiet
Shade, still waters, safe distance, sanctity,
Edge of mossy stream.
Shaded evening light, they feasted, single
Berry sufficed, and danced, lustrations of
Luminous light, each sprite interpreting
Joyous hidden worlds, life in movements
Delicate and minute. I felt no pain or sorrow,
No illness entering their wooded realms.
I was visitor, permitted to observe, secrets
Revealed by glowing firefly light. Words of
Thankful praise, I retraced homeward steps,
Outside their sphere, woodland sprites were
Invisible, to mortal eyes, in silence, disappeared.
Thanks for reading this fanciful poem.