The Mentor


He taught them

where to carve

the dead parts

so the rest could live,

to find its flow

and tap its sap.


With every mistake

the mentor took each

student by the hand

on a short walk

to the middle

of the forest


where it slopped

into pools

thick with inky water,

where the mist

often got trapped

between light and dark.


He mixed water and mud

and pressed it into their chest,

took a sharp branch

and gently scratched

his secret words into them,

until it became a tattoo.


He then gave each a bag of seeds

and a canteen of pool water,

guided them back to their errant tree,

chanted for them to mix both

into the thirsty soil until

it no longer screamed for inspiration.


The students repeated this every day,

watching the grass bloom infinite variations,

discovering their tongues speak

at first his and then their secret words

until they knew all of them,

even those yet to be spoken.