Once, while wandering through a forest far from home,
I came across a palace amidst the trees.
Its walls were made of smooth white marble
and its ivy covered gates were tall, at least three stories
high. I had never seen such a beautiful palace before
so I approached its great doors, only to find them bolted shut-
locked tightly against the wind and rain I supposed.
Each day I returned to that spot in the woods
and tried the hardest I could to open the gates.
I stroked their great stone, fiddled with their locks
but still I remained outside, alone.
Weeks passed and I began to wonder more and more
at what lay beyond those walls.
It soon became the focus of my every day
as I tried hard to find a way to steal inside.
Until one evening, as the sun waned over the trees,
I looked up to watch the breeze
flutter the great flags atop the milky walls;
The marble was white
and yet it blushed, a living, breathing pink in the light.
I was so struck by what I saw before me that that without any warning
I spoke to the great gates themselves:
You are the most beautiful palace I have ever seen,
I said to the walls.
Your turrets are tipped in silver,
your ramparts spiral high,
and yet each day when I come to meet you,
it seems there's even more there than what meets the eye.
And with a creak and a shudder the doors suddenly opened wide.
Just inside there was a garden, filled with purple aster and sunflowers galore.
A bright light filtered down through the trees finding fairies flitting from one plant to the next.
Each singing sprite seemed to have something important to say
and so I sat and listened to the secrets of the white stone palace.
I heard stories of the cracks in the walls
and the princes who once roamed its halls
and I remained in the light with the fairies through the night
and all the way until the next day came.
Each afternoon I returned to the palace and it gently opened its doors
so I could enter its lovely, warm garden.
As far as I could tell I was the only one allowed past the great gates and walls
and quite quickly I began to fall in love
with the light and the fairies and the flowers.
Each day I swept all the towers that had grown dusty and cold,
pulling weeds, raking leaves and polishing the smooth white marble.
All the time I spent in the garden made me believe in magic again
and so I couldn't quite tell you just exactly when
it happened, but one day I realized I hadn't been home in weeks.
My cheeks were rosy and my heart was full
but I knew that if I left my house alone for too long
its paint would chip, its wood would rot
and the grass in my own little garden would grow wild.
I suddenly felt like I'd left a child all alone
and I knew right then that I had to return home.
Don't go! the magic garden begged, I need you to stay.
It's not often that anyone comes through the forest this way
and I've begun to rely so much on your company each day-
won't you please stay just a little while longer?
I can't, I said sadly, I must take care of my home
it wasn't fair of me to leave it for weeks, all alone.
The garden was quiet and in that moment I felt that something very small had changed.
But I made a promise to her that I'd return very soon
and with with tears in my eyes I bid the garden goodbye
as I began to trudge back home through the woods.
When I finally reached my house I found the floors a mess, dishes in the sink,
and the plants in my garden looking like they could use, well, a drink.
So for a whole seven days I watered the grass, I cleaned and I dusted,
even oiling the rusted hinges of my little blue front door.
It did made me happy to be back in my home but
I missed being inside the palace's walls
so without the slightest hesitation at all
the next day I set out again into the woods.
It took me a while to find my way back
and when I finally arrived at the tall stone gates
I noticed that they did not swing open.
I told them they'd been missed,
even dared to plant a kiss on the white marble walls
but still they remained tightly shut.
The forest was quiet, though the trees seemed to sigh.
And the gates remained closed as many hours passed me by.
Sad and alone,
I circled the palace walls,
when suddenly I noticed a tiny piece missing from one of the stones.
The hole was quite small but gave a clear view inside
and so I pressed up my eye against the wall and looked.
There was the garden.
All filled with flowers and a lovely warm light
that danced across fairies who flitted from sight
and the air was still touched with magic.
I could just faintly hear the sound of the fairies' sweet songs
and I stood there at the wall for a very long time indeed.