How to Care

This morning I awoke with a lonely friend
who had forgotten his soul
and could not remember
where to find it again.
His eyes would not meet mine;
his face was tight and hard.

The forest will forgive you, I told him.
She will take you in her tender, gnarled arms
            and hold all
because she knows you will soon be gone.

The forest will forgive you, I told him.
She will listen, and your thoughts will fall
            like quiet flakes
upon her snowy, open palms.

Listen with your feet
and hear how your steps are part of her voice.

She will always take you back,
because to her you have never left.

She will rejoice in your slow and pensive steps
           as you wonder,
“How could I have traveled so far
from this again?”

And she will tremble as you kneel at her feet
            where trunk meets soil
            where root emerges from leaf and needle –
She will tremble as you touch your forehead
to the creased skin of her old, brown face and,
            with a deep sigh,
smile, as you remember something good –

            Vanilla, the weight of an old blanket,
            Her hand placed gently upon your cheek.

With a deep sigh you will remember,
            smile, and tell her, Thank you.
With a deep sigh, you will remember.

My friend nodded, stood slowly
            and began again.