On a still and chilly afternoon,
Through the shady columns of a secret grove,
Pressing footprints in softest grass,
A man walked quietly and alone.
He passed beneath a towering willow,
That had stood there for a hundred years,
The leaves upon its mighty beams,
Hung like emerald chandeliers.
And there beside the willow tree,
The man was struck with mild fright,
He stopped and crouched down very low,
And wondered at a curious sight.
Upon the ground in calm repose,
A woodland creature, small and fair,
Wearing aviator sunglasses,
‘Twas a hedgehog reclining in a chair.
The man, astonished, reached his hand,
And with a solitary fingertip,
He touched the hedgehog on the foot,
And the hedgehog from its chair did slip.
The man drew back the offending hand,
And the hedgehog stood and shook its head,
The man said, “You gave me quite a scare,
Little fellow, I thought you were dead.”
The hedgehog turned and removed his shades,
And said to the man, “God bless you, friend,
For thirty years I was bound to that chair,
Now you’ve brought my cursed slumber to an end.
“Let me bless you as a reward,
For the mercy you have shown to me,
I will give you a priceless, joyful gift,
When you know this gift, it shall set you free.
“I am, you can see, no ordinary beast,
For I am the fabled Hedgehog of Truth,
A name bestowed by the ancient sages,
But let’s not be formal, call me Bruce.”
The hedgehog stretched out his tiny paws,
And said, “In return for being so kind,
I give you the gift of truth itself,
To receive it just let your hands touch mine.
“Don’t be afraid,” the hedgehog urged,
“Just hold my hands and I’ll open your eyes,
The knowledge I can impart to you,
Is above any other earthly prize.
“And with the truth as your shining guide,
Men will seek you as their head,
Honour will follow you all your life,
And gold will make itself your friend.”
With these words the man was pleased,
His eyes lit up, his heart was glad,
Wealth and fame would soon be his,
He started to reach out his hands.
Then the hedgehog spoke again,
“And more than this I give to you,
For money is just a trifling gain,
When you understand all truth.
“The riches that will fill your hands,
Are one small boon to come your way,
But better yet you’ll know the joy,
Of giving some of that gold away.
“Just touch my hands and receive your sight,
Most precious things your eyes will see,
You will know how to spot a broken heart,
And how to help people in their need.”
The man then paused and stayed his hands,
Giving thought to what he’d heard,
He leaned back with a furrowed brow,
As the hedgehog continued his words.
“And far above all you’ll have the wisdom,
That men from every age have sought,
Years of learning may not reveal it,
It cannot be faked and it cannot be bought.
“It is the wisdom to see one’s self,
Free from bias or pride or excuse,
It is to see without blinding ego,
Your eyes will behold the mirror of truth.
“In that glass you will see your flaws,
And I warn you now—it’s a painful view,
But you’ll see the things you need to change,
All that repentance demands of you.”
The man withdrew his hands then stood,
And looked with scorn on the little beast,
Criticism was something he could not abide,
And from a hedgehog he abided it least.
“My friend,” the hedgehog then implored,
“I beg you, do not this offer spurn,
Do not despise the happiness,
That will be yours if you’re willing to learn.”
The hedgehog stepped toward the man,
Sincere concern in every spine,
And said, “Please sir, you need this gift,
Without the truth we are all of us blind.”
The man reeled back in grave offence,
Disgusted by the hedgehog’s plea,
He raised his boot and kicked the hedgehog,
Into the trunk of the willow tree.
The critter flew with fatal speed,
The kick at once did break his back,
No football was ever harder struck,
And on the tree his skull did crack.
The man then checked the beast was dead,
And covered its body with fallen leaves,
He stood and put his hands in his pockets,
Smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.
He shrugged and looked up at the willow,
It really was a beautiful sight,
He turned and continued on his walk,
Free to not face what he didn’t like.
© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED