by Monim Wains

You stood at the bottom of the waterfall, pelted by the deluge, punches of weight pounding down on your bones, thumping a tonne on your shoulders.

You had been brought to the forest some time ago; not out of your own volition, but by those who decreed that you should exist. Like this.

It was a beautiful trail, in the forest, winding and meandering through the flowers and the shrubs. Soft sweet notes sang through the air as you walked. You can’t hear that now.

The crashing of the sea that fell from the sky roared over all of that, tearing at your shirt. Your skin was raw, sore, bruised and cold. You opened your mouth to call for help, and gargled with salty froth, gagged and choked.

You stood alone, shivering, hugging your arms around your shoulders, curled up in a slumping shell, wondering why you were here.

There was no particular reason, no particular fault. The path just winds around sometimes, to the dark. The ground gets wet and muddy. Sinking. The sky clouds over, heavy, and the box opens.

Cuts fly out, a swarm of flies, swatting at your face. It blinds you, slapping you down and back, right to the edge of the cliff. Right to verge of a plunge below.

There’s nothing to do but to hold. Hold on. I know how the water will be drowning, crawling into your eyes, your mouth, your ears. The sludge will stick to you, your shadow. You can scratch at it if you want, try desperately to peel it away from your hair.

It will stay, though, clinging on, seeping tight into your ribs. The sky will be dark, the flies endless. They will cut and buzz and crash at you, forcing you back. For no reason. It’s just what the path dictates.

Push on, push through. Through the black haze of your path, harder into that chest of your deepest pains. It will hiss at your heart, but you must cut through. Dig through with your nails, grimace through the sludge, blind. Keep stretching, reaching, knowing.


In the dark, in the impossible, in the distant. You can’t feel it. You can’t see it. But you know it. At the bottom of this chest, Pandora, hang on. Cling to that thing that you have forgotten. Stretch as far in as you can, reach out.

There, with the tips of your fingers stick out of the waterfall. It doesn’t matter if it’s dark, or if it’s silent, or if it’s made up. It’s there, and you can hold on. Hold on. And pull.

Pull on, pull through. Know. The forest is still there. Your path is incomplete, and it needs a traveller. Remember that, even when it’s dark.

It will be light, always, even at the bottom of the box. Hold on to it. You’ll be back in the forest too.

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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