Children never ventured into the Nary wood.
They knew all too well and understood
of the dangers that fell,
and tales that were told,
and retold again;
stories of now and then.
They were handed down
by infinite numbers
of older sisters
and older brothers,
of brood before
and since brood began.
You must pass this on in hand.
A thing that tricked with a joy, so fresh
it beguiled you, then riled you,
then wrenched your flesh.
Against its hide, it wrapped you up.
It sucked you dry to fill its cup.
You knew it was close if no bird flew by,
or no chipmunk popped his body outside.
You might see a snail
or worms at the bottom
where the air was stale
under leaves that smelled rotten.
The feet of the Nary could be seen in this dirt.
Beware if you step on its toes, be alert!
Where the wind did not blow,
it was too big to hide
but, you were too close to know
the Nary next to your side.
Once you were caught you were gone forever.
The Scary Nary was very clever
It would hold you then scold you with fingers of whips
like willow tree branches with needles as tips.
It had arms that were lengthy and wretched like rakes,
and toes that were wicked and snarky like snakes.
It had hands that were haunted and hanging with hooks,
and eyes that were void like the specs of a spook.
Grown-ups never ventured to the wood past the meadow.
It was misunderstood, not amused by its shadow.
They had forgotten and joked and jeered at the fable.
They worked and toiled, and no longer able.
But when boys weren’t boys and not yet men,
they neglected their toys for adventure, and when
their courage was built and they longed to do what their minds intended,
the Nary woods brought a challenge anew, that could not be dispelled or amended.
And somewhere between
foal and mare, not pup or dog, not cub nor bear.
A boy was brazen and forced to dare.
So, when a school year was ending and the air was still cool.
One gathered the hearty and not the fool.
A group of three decided to venture
to the forbidden wood to test their measure.
After one had gathered them up,
they three, all wrestled and riled and thumped.
“We’ll go to the forest and see if it’s true.”
The first said it was, but second wasn’t sure.
The third said it wasn’t, so the challenge was pure.
Meticulously they planned with tact and tool.
They pilfered and packed what they could from their school,
from their father’s sheds, and from under their beds.
They were ready for the worst kind of ghoul.
So, they spit and shook for now and forever.
They would not dampen their oath nor sever
the pact they had made or themselves from adventure.
Before the cows on the farm
they were a long way from harm.
Near the grouse in the meadow
they felt slightly unsettled.
Past the deer in the dell
they were halfway to hell.
Beyond the dells, the three stood one by another,
“It all looks too gruesome,” they shuddered.
They’d go if they could,
but were frozen by the wood.
One said to his friend,
“go in and return and bring back the news.”
“You’re crazy my brother the Nary is true.”
And they could not agree on none or all three,
and all three was the best they could do.
So, as boys dare and dare as they do,
one dared another and another made two.
When one stood alone he rallied behind.
Now all three were stalking in line.
They crept through the thickets, the vines and the nettles,
milk-thistles, pines, and peddles.
Until the vines became few and the ground became grey
and worms squirmed about in the rot and decay.
Still deeper they slunk til’ they stood near a giant
that had a large trunk; a tree that stood high and reliant.
It spread out like a dome where no animals roamed but the boys grew more bold and defiant.
The tree stood tall with arms outstretched;
hanging limbs with leaves like gnarled nets.
Draped with toys and forget-me-nots.
All made of wood and carved to a liking
that boys adored and girls found striking.
Nothing shined though objects shown,
no more than figures it had grown
of things that resembled fun and good.
All for the taking, if you could.
Oh what a dare, oh what a deed.
Their childish hearts were filled with greed.
And of all that was rotten,
they might still be alive and forgotten.
For if only they feared what the fragile fear
of shriek and terror and hold me, dear.
They stepped on the roots and the twigs that were buried
that crunched and alerted the hives of the Nary.
They grabbed at the branches like shelves of a store,
and tugged at the toys that it carried.
There the wind did not blow
and this carnival show
was too much for the boys to ignore.
It awoke in a sudden. It wrapped them up tight.
They were coiled in a thicket, of gossamer plight.
The one who was leader became embroiled in thorns
that wove like a web, and tightened its horns.
It squeezed and released until his screams had ceased
and tossed him atop where it finished the feast.
At the highest branches, he stopped.
Another was grabbed by the face and shook.
By the eyes and mouth, he was took.
Driving its shanks down his throat to its length
and out through his head like a hook.
Out of his back more branches emerged,
more leaves were sprouted and his juices were purged.
He sagged there a carcass to be siphoned and squeezed
where his skin became bark and dry like the trees.
The last one was pulled to the side of the trunk
as a mouth and eyes opened it swallowed a chunk.
With teeth like daggers and eyes deathly dark
the lad was halved at the waist as from a shark.
But nothing was wasted and it took the last bite.
Of the last boy it tasted he tasted of fright.
A prize for the Nary, oh how he was good
and this one’s face forever stood
in the crags of the bark
on its trunk in the wood.
The Nary wood, as time does tell.
Not a childish place of Jack and Jill.
Not on hill or dale,
but a forest of fear and fail.
when you see a face gnarled in wood
on a tree, in a forest,
beyond a meadow and dell
and you know that you shouldn’t
yet, you do just as well.
Just remember the childhood
stories they tell.
A lesson of will
so that you will grow merry…
No child escapes the Scary Nary.