Final Thoughts: Hyperphagia Leslie Adrienne Miller January 3, 2009 The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one’s own. – Willa CatherFor years I misremembered it as The heart of another is always a dark forest,believing the wilderness a given, a problem to solve before we’re let in. That once you find the way in, it’s a wood you can know, with beasts you can name if not outwit, even when they try to take you by wonder. Above all, that the getting close would unravel a path in the undergrowth, beat back stinging snarls, so we’d arrive at some degree of recognition, then have every reason to expect improvement, even comfort thereafter, the screaming and slithering thinning over the years until it’s more Hyde Park than Yellowstone.But there’s no accounting for the loneliness of a journey we expected to share and ended up taking solo, and though we knew there were tunnels everywhere underfoot, that everything living beneath the surface was as afraid of us as we were of it, fear kept tarnishing our way, and the grizzly of hope was always somewhere ahead just off the path, unaccountably cute in its hunger, swatting berries toward its giant smiling ma was if there were years to accomplish the task of fattening the chance of survival.But Cather knew what she was doing when she moved that insipid always due east. That the region of the heart is impenetrable ever, that knowing the beast doesn’t shame him, that proximity invites peril, that even with his snout smeared in huckleberry juice, his eyes too tiny to detect you in the bramble, he is the intimate who stumbles toward you, navigating by smell alone, with damage in mind.