Becoming Fearless

The world is bright.

The sun, midway in her journey ‘cross the sky,

sends warmth and light

to the meadow below,

lush with verdant, sweet-smelling grasses

and variegated wildflowers.

The nymph,

slender and young,

brunette curls trailing down her back,

espies a bloom fit for the crown she is weaving;

she plucks it, heedless of the thorns

until she feels the prick of pain,

sees the blood trickling from her finger.

The god,

looking for diversion,

espies a nymph fit for play,

and gives chase.

But fair Daphne knows how quickly a bud,

once picked,

can begin to wilt,

and how the world is

cruel and negligent

to those who are hurt and withering.

So she runs.

The mythical beings move ever faster;

he, demanding,

nipping at her heels.

She, frightened, feels

exhaustion

already causing her limbs to shake.

Why must she be so weak?

How can someone

so fair, so bright,

so full of potential,

be out of options

and powerless

so quickly?

She does what all young do,

if they can;

face red with shame,

she appeals for assistance

from her father.

The strong, possessive fingers of the divine grasp her shoulder,

and she learns that, in the face of complete terror, she screams –

with a power that seems to force Apollo to retract,

that shakes the buds resting in bushes and growing from the ground

with its volume and emotion.

But no –

it was not acknowledgement that she,

as a person with her own thoughts and feelings,

did not desire his touch

that had caused Apollo to retreat;

it was, instead, another man’s

imposition of himself upon her.

Granted, she had asked for his help.

Not realizing that he,

preferring that his daughter remain an untouched vessel

for eternity,

or at least, as long as trees live,

would cause her being to harden, thicken, and hollow,

her arms to grow lanky, darken, and sprout

thick green leaves

that Apollo, not to be thwarted of his prize entirely,

would tear from her being

as he had yearned to tear off her clothes,

and wear as a crown upon his head.

Ground suddenly unreliable,

her feet sank into the soil beneath her,

firmly entrenching her into the particular spot

on which her transformation had begun.

The sun continued to shine, until its’ journey was complete,

and Daphne drank in its rays and warmth,

spreading her branches far and wide,

secure in the knowledge that she needn’t fear

any longer.