• Steph Shuff

The Forest

Updated: May 31

I like his crystal eyes, his hesitant smile, his deep and tonal voice; I like the timbre and the tenor of it, as if it has been crafted, sculpted, tested in a lab for maximum hypnotic effect. Art and science merge in the wide and shallow sound waves that spill from his mouth, like warm water. I could swim inside the sound.


In him, as in all good art, form and function meet. The language that he speaks is poetry, and I am difficult to impress with words. He is funny, and fearless; you cannot be one without being the other.


When we talk, he hands me one end of a piece of string. His hand is clasped around the other. He turns to wander through the deep woods of his mind and I watch him disappear into the thick of it, earnest in his pursuit of a thought, a concept, a thread of conversation. He fades from view, but his voice is low and rich - it carries through the trees and back to me. I listen, hypnotized, smiling.


Some people have easy minds for navigating - they are small clearings, or open plains, or well-manicured gardens. Other people guard their minds with high walls - nothing gets in, nothing gets out. I am done climbing walls to know people. A secret garden can be fun until it becomes a prison.


His mind is different. It is a temperate forest; the edges of him are open and inviting, but he stretches on forever. He is thickly wooded and fertile, eternal. He is all garden, no prison. Art and science merge as flowers bloom and fruits ripen and leaves yellow and snow falls. He is always changing and growing and in every season, he is beautiful.


I stand on the edges of him, study the forest, and long to know the trees - I want to touch the rough bark of him and feel waxy leaves between my fingers. I want to smell pine sap on my clothing. I want to taste syrup on my tongue.


He is not afraid of the parts of me that burn. There are no high fences in the forest of him and so fires like me are just another thing to be known. He welcomes me into the depths of him, tends to me like someone who could use the warmth. His voice is a dry log on the fire of me that never burns away. Like this, he could feed me forever.


I am both lulled and awakened by him, as if in a dream. He knows how to stoke me - I can sense him as he works me up into a fearsome blaze. He marvels at the height of me, fearless, before lulling me back down again into a glow. I love to watch him learn me. What is it about being known?

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