The woods began at the end of our street
where maples were a warning of green
and windy boundaries, a wall of containment,
which as children we ignored, curiously
indulging ourselves in the wooded shadows.
We entered as those who test the mysteries,
finding raw paths that ran among the trees
and leaf-covered hills where we discovered
the mound of beads left, we imagined, by
those who came before us, inch-long
cylinders of what seemed like ivory meant
to adorn the throats of Indian maids. This
is what we told ourselves, as I strung
the beads and placed them round her neck
before we touched our tongues for the first time
and history seemed to freeze in place
while above us leaves whispered their secrets
as she became my wife and I her quivered arrow.
What now? we asked ourselves as we emerged
from the shadows and walked our street again,
the beads left behind like a buried promise
we left unspoken and forever unfulfilled.
V. P. Loggins is the author of The Wild Severance (forthcoming, 2021), winner of the Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Competition, The Green Cup (2017), winner of the Cider Press Review Editors’ Book Prize, as well as The Fourth Paradise (Editor’s Select Poetry Series, Main Street Rag, 2010) and Heaven Changes (Pudding House Chapbook Series, 2007). He has also published one book on Shakespeare, The Life of Our Design, and is co-author of another, Shakespeare’s Deliberate Art. His poems and articles have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Crannog (Ireland), The Dalhousie Review (Canada), English Journal, The Healing Muse, Memoir, Modern Age, Poet Lore, Poetry East, Poetry Ireland Review, Southern Review, and Tampa Review, among other journals. He has taught at several institutions, most recently the United States Naval Academy.