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  • Writer's pictureHil Hoover

a mystery for no one to solve

we were the children who ran wild in the woods

a collection of raggedy creatures, bird’s-nest hair,

some shoeless or coatless, or dressed in hand-me-downs

in all the wrong sizes, or nice clothes we’d long since

destroyed refusing to set ourselves apart from our peers,

and these were the truths that we knew: if it was dinnertime, then it was your momma calling you,

and you better run as fast as you could, because being late

was not an option, but if you heard her voice at any other time,

then it was not your momma, it was something else, and

you do not pay it mind, do not answer that voice, do not

follow that path or you will become a mystery no one will solve

if it was the howl of a coyote, that was a familiar kind of song,

keep your dog under control, make sure the rabbits and the

chickens and whatever else you’re backyard-farming are put

up, and you’ll be fine, and even if by some chance you run

into a bold one that someone’s been feeding or otherwise

made dangerous, what’s the worst it could do? eat you?

if you’re one of those kids who doesn’t go home at night,

who decided it was safer to stay out here in the woods,

for one reason or another, who found a cave behind a

waterfall, or under a set of bushes, or perhaps built a

treehouse, or annexed an abandoned shack, if you’re

camping, or hiding, or playing truth-or-dare, well…

beware the distant howls in the autumn breeze,

the ones that start at the roots of trees, harry their way

up trunks, release through the branches, scream through

the forest canopy, make their way toward you until they

turn into the crunch of leaves just outside your shelter,

the ones that are not coyotes or wolves, or any creature

of this earth, not your momma at her most impatient,

not the grasping hands you came here hiding from,

not the darkness of human evil you thought you

could escape, something older than that, and

you can stop your ears and hope to survive the night

or you can step outside and scream into the howling,

answer back those voices you were always told

to ignore, become a mystery for no one to solve

if you hear your missing friend’s voice in the woods

pray that they’ve become the most glorious

and beautiful monster

but also run

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