the color of go and of livelihood
buds sprouting out of the ground
the beginning of a life cycle anew
the woods are famous for restarting
over and over and over again
their starts are gradual yet fulfilling
the peak of their life is fruitful and unaware of decay
only concerned with feeling the wind and sucking up nutrients

their ends are also gradual
yet it’s inevitable

no fulfillment
reality strikes us all

she giggles atop the bark branches
hushes herself for almost giving it all away
there are visitors
ready with their gear and bulky lenses
they aim their focus and click! snap!
an image appears on the contraption
wait, what is that blur?
the visitor, stunned, looks back at the object of focus
the archaic trunk that inspired attention is now tainted

GO is scrawled across in green’s complement
an ominous red that now inspires fear

the visitors become deserters
her giggles turn into cackles, riotous at another victory

the pranks have been going on since her younger years
where growth spurts and a whirring of emotions
led to channeling confusion and angst into forms of trickery
where she relished in maintaining ownership of her forest
they may visit but they don’t ever dare take it all away

it hits her
her end
gradual yet inevitable

maybe it’s time to stop playing these silly games
maybe she’s too old for this nonsense

her years of emotional turbulence have passed
there’s no excuse for her tricks and immaturity
laughter turns into realization

grow up
grow up

you can’t protect these woods forever
when they themselves know the truth
about the stages of life and of deserting a former phase

grow up
grow up

maybe it’s time to share

—By Isabella G., 19, Florida