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  • Matthew Foley

Writing Prompt: The Forest Knows Where You Are



This week’s Contribute Your Verse writing prompt is titled “The Forest Knows Where You Are” and explores the themes of being lost & how we might find ourselves again.


Let’s begin with the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner:


“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows Where you are. You must let it find you.”


This poem was inspired by a teaching story from a Native American tribe in the Northwest that was designed to teach a young person what to do if they found themselves lost in the woods.


As we go through life, there are of course thousands of ways to get lost in the woods. We can become lost spiritually or emotionally. We can get lost in relationships or addictions. We can lose our way due to traumas and painful upheavals in our lives.

So, how do we find our way again?


Writing, of course, can be a powerful tool in rediscovering where we are and who we are. This week, I want you to explore the theme of being lost & found in your writing.. whether that’s a poem, a short story, or a journal entry.


As you settle into your writing space, take a few deep, calming breaths… and recall times in your life when you got lost in the woods, when you lost touch with who you truly are.


What helped you find your way back?


What advice would you give to someone who is currently feeling very lost?


What words of wisdom could you offer to your younger self, or perhaps your future self, to help you find your way back home again?


And if you happen to get lost or stuck in the middle of your writing, don’t worry. Stand still. Listen. The forest knows where you are.

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