I used to dream of forests, asleep and awake. Dense groves of ancient giants, gilded domes of oak and maple, stands of slender aspens, bearing silent witness, swaying to a breath. Wild, hidden places where life seemed much more alive, at once intense and restorative. Where my outline might be found more cleanly within the profusion of stalks, branches and brambles, swifter than a hunter a hare. Where I would look up to a night sky unobstructed save for leaves and clouds, and the full moon reflected in still pools would be my clearest looking glass. Where I might find my true home, far from distant gazes and searing voices, swallowed up in obscurity, encompassed in the fullness of unrestrained growth.

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Now I dream of cities, sprawling up to horizons, bordered by austere deserts and vast oceans. Silvery skyscrapers rising-up higher than limbs could ever allow. Not limited by atmosphere or surface, they set down roots, deeper and deeper underground. Mazes of intersecting tunnels growing so intricate they resemble tangled snarls, delivering people swifter than water and nutrients to places of need and desire. Cities where I may drown in anonymity, yet resurface anew, drawn by nets of the fiercest imaginings stronger than the visible.

I used to imagine minds as if they were houses or buildings. All with a façade, a front door and a back. Sometimes, you are led into a spartan room, barely furnished, where the only open door is the entrance. Sometimes all the doors are open, many rooms are full of light and music, lavish and luxurious. Sometimes the back rooms are neglected, they are cold, covered in grime and you can’t wait to leave. Sometimes the front door is reserved only for the few. Sometimes all the doors are locked, there is only a glimmer from a window, and sometimes someone stands there looking out.

Now I’ve come to believe minds are more like forests. The largest trees are discernible from a distance, thick and well-nourished with care and attention. They soak-up the sunlight of recognition and dominate nearly every impression. Yet, within those well-cultivated groves, and quite astounding in their multitude, are shoots, stalks and vines of incredible variety burgeoning in ever-growing heaps, in every open space, crevice and dark corner, tangling in pockets of wild disorder, all struggling for a place among the strong. All possibilities: from the most tender bud to the driest vine, fresh and old, new and tried, all there and eager, striving for their place and time. Streaks of despair, rage and terror alongside those of beauty, intelligence and wisdom, all waiting to be chosen, to grow and to thrive.

We can never fully tame ourselves of this wildness, it is as much a part of us as the forest its air, as the city its streets. As the light must draw its own shadow.

Text and images by M.P. Baecker ©2018.

30 thoughts on “Pale Forest

  1. What a wonderful post. The question is where we feel more anonymous, and where alienated, really. I am a city girl who loves going to the countryside and enjoys nature. I’ve come to realize that if I have a peaceful state of mind, it matters little where I am or where I abide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely, illuminating comment! “if I have a peaceful state of mind, it matters little where I am or where I abide” totally agree. It’s a work in progress, finding that peaceful state, perhaps it’s more a matter of acceptance of who and where one is than a striving, a rejection or fighting.

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  2. I have tears streaming down my cheeks. This piece soars and aches. It is examination and acceptance. It feels like you have reached into my heart and exposed the goodness of it, even in all of its mess, with an eloquence, grace and beauty that I never could. You are the kind of writer I can only dream of being. I am in love with your mastery of words!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your beautiful kindness! Honestly, I could say the very same thing about you! You are so talented, it is an honor to be appreciated by you!

      This is one of the rare works that the pictures came before the words did, I took photos of forests and examined their fine lines and textural qualities and the words came through after that. I am particularly obsessed with forests because they were the places of all my favorite fairytales, childhood fantasies and stories. It is actually best called a “nonfiction” piece because they are my honest thoughts and I honestly did dream of forests and now of cities!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read it as poetry! I have recently become interested in the ways that visual art forms inspire me as a writer. I am often so surprised by what comes into my poetry through this process. I think it is super cool that the pictures came first with this piece; it gives a different perspective! And, thank you so much for your kindness about my writing. I find it an immense compliment that you read my blog!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I unfortunately don’t have much of an education, but I do know a lot about life and other very important issues. But this piece is really nice with nice words and descriptions of the trees and surrounding natural land. I have always loved woodland and really like cottages and little houses at the start of the forest, where there is a small road or path going on from the house, perhaps a bridge going over the stream, and perhaps even a castle with beautiful deer and birdsong. I love all sorts of trees and fauna, ferns and all the mushrooms that grow in a variety of colours.

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      • Thank you for your lovely comment. Those are all very beautiful things. I like to imagine all of these things, it makes me feel peaceful. The castle and the little houses you described make me think of fairytales, which often take place in an enchanted forest. I think this is one of the big reason why I used to dream of forests when I was a little girl. They are always beautiful and mysterious places. I am glad you shared your thoughts.

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  3. Hi MP,

    I just explore your site and I must say you are doing a great job.Our mind is like a forest.Our thoughts are just like tree with big roots.It’s hard to change them,when they are big enough. Our habit is just like a big tree ,it is very hard to change it,but if you asking me, it is necessary for better life 🙂

    Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your lovely comment and for reading my blog! I agree with you, we are in control of the trees we choose to cultivate, we can choose to make certain ones bigger and stronger like our sense of love or kindness, and those trees we don’t want, we can devote less attention to them and they will become smaller, weaker.

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  4. The analogy of the forest is apt. We consciously, and subconsciously, nurture certain trees, paying less heed to uninteresting flora, ignoring certain others, unmindful of thorns and hedges that exist nonetheless. Then there are elements in that forest beyond the control of the individuals. “Here be dragons”.

    In the end, it is the sum total that matters, the remainder of the mutually cancelled out attributes, of the dreams and reality, the nerves and emotions, collating and conflicting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love what you wrote. I almost don’t want to write a reply to mar the beauty of your comment! All I can say is you’ve totally got it! I could write on and on, but all I wish is for a highlighter or a spotlight to cast on your words!

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  5. Oh yes! What an amazing piece. I feel the change you feeling inside while reading this. It’s good knowing we got some history and that we soaring to greater heights. Just the same person waking up with a liberated personality, freedom of emotions.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much! It’s hard to explain why I find something beautiful or have the inexplicable desire to write about it and share it. It’s often as tiny and ephemeral as how soft the wind blows through the leaves of aspen trees, or how grey-beige the dust on the sidewalks is in the city in mid-winter. Thanks for exploring such things with me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That line that you cited came out surprisingly easy! I was trying to capture 2 strong emotions (of living in the city) simultaneously and felt that I hit it on the first try! It’s most often NOT the case with me, anyone reading my work at the first few minutes it is published is at a disadvantage because I’m a notorious post-publish corrector😅👍!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! After I wrote this, I paused about what to call it “fiction”, “nonfiction”, “poetry” or something else, so I left the ending blank. This may seem strange, but I was trying to be completely honest in this piece of writing, these are honestly the dreams and ideas swirling around in my head! Yet to call it “nonfiction” seems odd.

      At any case, I may use this piece or parts of it later in a book, I’m trying to figure out if I can continue with this narration and imagery in a longer form…I’m chasing that inspiration here! 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      • I keep my own categories streamlined enough that I don’t know how to categorize about 1/3 of what I write… a lot of that gets thrown into “Chronicles of Tom” since, hey, that covers about everything I go through! 😂

        That was a great way, and this is a great place, to chase that inspiration. Absolutely marvelous outcome! Looking forward to more. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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