A Canopy of Stars

She woke under a canopy of stars, each one blinking with as much surprise as she. Her hand touched the soft grass beneath her, a breeze caressed her face as it raced across the meadow. She sat up letting her eyes adjust to the dark. The moon was full and the sky clear. She was in a meadow surrounded by trees. It was as if mother nature had built a castle just for her. She heard some rustling now and then as small rabbits or frightened mice moved through the grass.

She looked down at herself and could barely make out a floral house coat. Not a robe but something more substantial. Her hair was dark in the moonlight and her hands seemed so much younger than she remembered. A noise across the meadow made her look up and a large stag broke through the treeline. He was huge and muscular. His crown of bone as long as he was tall. He was magnificent and she felt a tear roll down her cheek.
She stood up slowly. She didn’t want to spook the grand king of this wood. As she did the King moved toward her. He raced quickly from the wood to her in seconds, stopping five feet from her. She saw into his black eyes. They seemed as clear as the purest crystal. She kept still slowly reaching out her hand. To her surprise the King knelt before her and let her touch his proud nose. Her smile was a big as the swelling in her heart as she heard a soft voice somewhere far away.

In the white room the machines beeped and growled. Wires winding across the tiled floor to the single bed. Sitting on the bed was a young girl, no more than seven. She clutched onto a piece of paper that she held up to show the woman lying still beneath her.

“And see Nana. It’s so beautiful here and the King comes to say hi. He is a good King…so gentle. He will let you pat him and you won’t hurt anymore. I love you Nana.”

The girl lay back against the woman, still holding up the picture of a meadow, under stars, with the King standing proud.

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Backward.

I like to walk backwards through a life less told,

Through rooms that have cobwebs from being so old.

I look over shoulders at days left forgot,

I shake my head slowly at memories for not.

I say good-bye to people easier than most,

Remembering them as you would a ghost.

Some say I have demons that hide in the dark,

I think I show them with an impersonal mark.

I have never been true to people or me,

I prefer to never let anyone see.

The masks I wear I hang in my mind,

Always at hand and easy to find.

For a time I was free and able to share,

Like a child acting out on a dare.

But as dares go they tend to hurt,

And leave you face down in the dirt.

So I walk backwards locking some doors,

Left to die on forgotten shores.

 

Old Man.

Sometimes the old stag stood on the mountain, chest puffed up as the rain poured down. His broken antlers shining in the wet. His fur matted to his skin. He had earned every scar and every scratch. He still looked powerful even with his age. So many battles won, now just a distant scent on the wind.

If deer could feel, he felt his age. His shoulders  burned, his knee joints ached. He had struggled to climb so high, but this was his mountain, his ground to guard and as the rain fell on the old stag his knees buckled. He fell to the ground, the fast beating heart quickened slightly and then began to slow. He rolled onto his side, looking up at the dark clouds.

If deer could feel he would have been scared, or maybe he was reflecting on his many children. He helped populate the mountain and the forest below.

If a deer could smile, perhaps that old stag would be smiling as his heart slowed and the rain poured down and his heart stopped, but the rain kept coming unable to wash the scent of life off the mountain.

Heart and Wing

Tall stands the heart of cold

the agent of despair

the owner of souls

never meant for him.

Ever watchful is the bird

with wings spread wide

eyes all-knowing

all manner of sin.

The heart and the bird

in a dance of forever

one waiting to steal

the other wanting to save.

In the shadow and light

with fist and wing

each wanting the end

with the roads each paves.

And above the dance

is a god still sleeping

lost in a slumber

seeing with no eyes.

The heart likes the slumber

The bird wants him roused

and the world cries out

before the day dies.

 

 

 

Sigh.

    In the stolen night, she danced with the fireflies, dressed in dry moss from the ancient tree. She danced to the music of the toads and the wind.She danced under the light of the moon and the old stars. She danced in circles, until she was too dizzy and fell to the soft damp earth that was her momentary stage. She breathed deep, the smell of the forest so strong. She turned to the old man of the wood.
    “Was that a good dance?” she asked.
    The wind blew through the leaves of the giant tree, its massive trunk creaking and moaning an answer only she could hear.
    “Why thank you old man,” she smiled, her voice floating on the same breeze.
    To look at her she was dirty. This waif of a girl covered in the dirt of the woods. Her face dark, arms even darker, matched only by the filth over her legs. This was a creature who left bathing to those that cared. To look upon her was almost sad, until she looked back and you saw her eyes. These were the eyes of wonder, of faith and survival. They were eyes that looked into your heart, grabbed hold, and squeezed until you could not breathe. She was innocence and beguile, magic and truth. She was more than she appeared, at least that’s what the old man thought.
    The tree was older than the forest. In truth he was the father of the forest. His seeds floating down sun to moon and moon to sun, for a million days. Each tree a son or grandson, or great, great, great…well you understand. He was proud of his dominion, proud of his sons and happily spent the hours being pleased of himself. He never thought of a daughter, never wanted for such a thing, until she came to his roots.
    She was small for a tree, he remembered thinking, and moved around too much for one of his kin. She had found a break in the ground between his roots and had fallen asleep to escape the cold. He took pity on the tiny thing and cradled her, warmed her and sung with the wind and leaf. He took her in and as the rain came he did something he had not done in a thousand years. He moved, he willed his roots to close in and shield the sapling from the wet and cold. With that she became his and he became hers and the days were much more exciting than they were before.
    The old man knew she was not truly his. He knew the kin of this sapling. His roots were old and went for miles under the soft blanket of the earth mother. He was aware of the trees that moved. He had seen their cities, heard the screams of his children that built those cities. He had witnessed entire generations killed by the walking trees and their tools. He was sad over the loss of so many, but with this small one he would try to understand them.
    “Old man!” she snapped him out of his trance.
    “Old man! Are you in your past again?” she winked and kicked out her heel. “Don’t make me dance again, cause I will!”
    If a tree could smile, then the old man would have a smile 15 feet wide. The wind rustled leaves and his bark cracked and crinkled.
    “Well, I love you too old man,” she whispered to the leaves.
    Years past, as years do, and the sapling became a woman and the woman became old, but never as old as the old man. her hair got whiter, her dancing got slower and her voice became quieter…
    “OLD MAN!!”
    …almost.
    The wind replied, “yyyeeesssss?”
    “I am old, I can’t dance. I can hear you, but can’t see. I have lived with you for a lifetime and learned so much. I remember my cradle, deep in your roots and I thank you for your kindness, your care and your love.”
    Her eyes, though cloudy, still burned with such life, as she fell to the earth with a sigh as her last breath.
    The old man saw her fall
    If trees could cry, he did.
    The ground seemed to tremble, as the earth seemed to move. His roots came to hold her, bring her back to her home. He cradled her gently, as she was a babe. His roots closed around her as the wind hit his leaves.
    Those who could hear it would have spun a tall tale…about the song in the wind that seemed too sad to be real. The forest went quiet as the old man sung. One more of his saplings, but this was no son.
    If trees could love…
    A tree did love.

Run.

The air escaped my lungs like a slow leak from a bicycle tire worn through from summer after summer of hard riding. I could hear it feel it, fuck, I could practically see it. The grass under me was dry and stabbing me with needles and itch. I wanted to get up wanted to keep running, but my body was now my enemy and I had lost any battle I was in.

I waited eyes growing heavy. I waited for the inevitable dark that had been chasing me for hours. How do you fight the dark? The answer is you can’t, you run always trying to stay ahead of it. You keep in the light chase the light with everything you have. You have to want it more than anything, reach so deep that you can do the miraculous.

I wanted it so badly that I broke the bonds of my limitations. I ran faster, jumped higher, I pushed until I practically flew! And then I did. I felt gravity give up fighting my desires. I saw my feet leave the ground and not need land again. I soared toward the light and even though it ran from me, I kept up. I was going to beat the darkness behind me.

The wind rushed through my hair. Speed was key, I had to be fast. The light was there and all around me. As long as I was in it I was winning. The only problem was I wasn’t winning I just didn’t realize I was losing.

It was in the speed. I wasn’t really as fast as I thought and the dark was not far behind me. Soon I could see the horizon behind me and see the shadow creeping miles behind. As time passed the shadow approached. I was losing as I was tiring. It seemed even flying took its toll.

The sky was darker. I looked all around me and saw the twilight of the evening encroaching. My breath always gave it away. When I was running, jumping and now flying, the limits were not broken. I pushed myself harder, concentrating on nothing but the light. I felt speed, felt the wind pick up and then the crush in my lungs.

I fell and now I am lying here in the dry grass. The sky slowly turning and soon my enemy will find me. Even now I can hear its growl. I can hear its claws clicking in the dry dirt. An echo in the distance getting closer.

My arm is numb, my breath getting shorter and weaker. I can’t fight the dark. I see the last of the light in my life go dark and I know I have lost the long fight. It is all around me now. The teeth digging into my flesh as the darkness swims around me, stalking me…I let go of the needle and I am gone.

 

Conversation… Concerning the Walls…

Perhaps the world is not as small as I have often feared. I sit in this room of off-white walls, you know that color of age, that screams PAINT ME! I have to laugh, as if I have the time in my mundane life to change something. Change is scary, I know it is always inevitable, but it still scares me. I mean I am kinda used to things just staying the way they are…do I need to mention those off-white walls again? Don’t shake your head at me, you are probably just like me. Okay sorry, I didn’t mean to insult, no one is quite as pathetic as I. Hell I am talking to myself and writing to no one in particular, except you, you are listening right. You are paying attention? Hmm…perhaps the world is larger than I gave it credit for, or maybe I am small, tiny, insignificant, forgotten and someone redundant…LOL…redundant is a good word for life. Purpose is redundant, really think on this one. What true purpose do we have? We are born to eventually die, every one of us, born with the terminal illness called age. Fuck I am getting philosophical in my old age…I blame the off-white walls…