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by Trent Walters

A proud and knowing forestpeople, we dwell near a clearing used for fertility festivals. The forest is all of the world, except for the sky. We see the sky and know it. Our home is parallel to the home of the sky, so we are parallel to the starpeople, their equals. But we are earthy compared to those lofty ones, who uphold their torches nightly, so far off they hear not our calls.

The forest is the world, the world the forest; the forest inscribes the world; the forest flows beyond what the eye can see. There are no words for these things. We do not write but only speak them. Some urge us to transcribe history for the next generation. Foolish conceit! People should live in the now, not the past.

Rumor spreads that our world shrinks, tree by tree. One claims to have marked a tree with his sharp stone, and on the morrow, it was leveled to a stump. This we find difficult to believe because this one often cannot find his own sleeptree at night, which he should know, blindfolded, like his wife's form. Besides, what are we and what is the world without forest? If a tree disappears, does the world disappear with it? The notion's nonsense.

Rumor also claims a grassland surrounds our home, the forest. This we also find difficult to believe. Grass is for walking on and softening your nest. It cannot shield you from the tusk beast. A people need only forest and juicy beige fruits that dangle off limbs. We know this, but we also smell smoke from foreign fires--smoke flavored with wild game and fragrant wood. Do we believe what we know or what we sense?

Some of us desire to descend from the trees, to lope to grasslands to see what strange beings these may be, if such truly exist. The starpeople we know. We see them every night. They are silent and persevering if aloof in their nightly searches by torchlight. But the grasspeople must indeed be strange--grazing their world upon all fours.

Others of us doubt the sense of leaving the safety of our world. Can these grasspeople be found? Would they want to be found? If they wanted to meet us, wouldn't they have attempted to talk already? This assumes that we can find our way out of the forest, the world.

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