On the darkening forest floor, rising,
falling, a path emerged from lichen,
rock and moss. Dusk caught them by
surprise, as the tree canopy shielded
them from the hard rain coming down
on the forest trench. Mountains were
straight ahead, a sheer wall bringing
the run of the steppe to a sudden halt.
Their forest fears projected ill feeling
onto the gaps in light and shade among
the trees. Bright rapid-fire lightning
clawed its way through the foliage.
In the empty space, each of the four seekers
found known patterns, a shape of shadows,
voices rising from their forgotten traumas;
the adventures of the mind are never still.
The sky was low, thundering with gloom.
In their desperation, they all started to
talk loudly about every sort of nonsense,
they forged a lasting bond on shared fears.
The sister pronounced herself an artist,
the warrior told his companions about his
father’s sexual exploits. Dream-eater told a
dull joke, Marco remembered his best friend.
The next day, a vast sea of poppies and tulips
greeted them ahead of the city. Apple-tree orchards
lay in neat array before the huge gates. As they
approached, Marco marvelled at the beauty
of a city with snow-capped mountains as
back-drop, with apple-tree orchards slanting
down the side of tame hills, an ocean of
scarlet flower waves lapping at their feet.