My dearest friend,
Why must you sigh into the tall woods, send your whispered thoughts away as a solemn puff? Where we lay together was miles, horizons away from anyone who could hear them (except for myself, though you knew that I wasn’t listening).
Perhaps you met someone deep within, passed one during a solitary march through the depths of that forest, surrounded by the darkness even in the light. A nymph, drawn to the light of your eyes – in your careful blinks, you’d send morse-code messages to whomever could understand. She would listen, hold your head in her pale lap, her white dress of lightest silk.
Have you run off with her? Or are you truly alone?
I was there, somewhere, when you lay on the floor of your temple, alone, curled into a stone and ignorant to the light of day, the birds calling you out of that room. Mother cried, shed tears for us both, and you did nothing but bruise your face and bite your arm. Could you see me then? Or was I lost among everything else? Smothered by the ghosts that surrounded you behind your door, a portal shut tighter than a tomb.
On the bank of that river where we lay I would lean this way and that, shifting about, my words too soft to arouse your weary mind. You longed for our embrace, but there on the hot sands I was out of mind, a dark figure from a vague dream, a specter from a distant time (but what does that make you, friend?).
I had tried to lead you there before. “Follow me,” I said, held my hand out, my cold, small hand, the same as yours. With it I beckoned to you, but you remained mummified by your thoughts, staring across the waters to the far shore. In the end, you resolved to break the spell, rise from your spot on the sand: together, we trudged on through foul weather. It drowned your spirits, but you carried the weight of your soul all the way (always downhill, farther away from a summit we couldn’t remember).
We stood atop a shelf of gray rock and deepest green; to this day, water falls from that fateful precipice into the deepest blue below. Smooth, shining stones stood in stacks built by those who came and went before us. When you turned back to face me (you stood ahead, leading us as you had in those last days), your eyes were glassy and colorless. Not a soul could doubt the age of your spirit in those days. Was it wisdom that made you old?
When you plunged, so suddenly, I stood back, frightened at the thought that I may have given you a nudge (or even a shove). Now I don’t doubt that you made the leap yourself. There was no splash as you entered nature’s pool, and when I peered over the cliff I waited, breathlessly watching for your face to appear as it always had before, at all those other perilous falls (of course, those were mere graceless tumbles, this was something else). I was paralyzed at the prospect of being alone then, but is it wrong to admit that, after I knew you were gone, my grief was replaced with liberty? It disappeared under a wave of relief.
Unless… Did I dive in after you? Did I fish around with my arms on the surface, splashing and screaming and gasping? Even if I did, I wouldn’t have found you. I would have given up, shed a few tears, then turned my thoughts to myself, as I always do.
Either way, I abandoned you, crossed the river and started my way through the woods, chasing my fancy, getting tangled in the underbrush, only occasionally stopping to sleep, to dream. For as similar as we are (our hands, our hearts), I lack your love of the woods, and now it looks to bury me. The air that once refreshed your tired spirit chokes me, the trees that made up the walls of your cathedral now block out the sun.
I still tremble at the dawn, pick up stones along the way, traces of you. But I don’t dawdle at the fork, I never look back – I’m afraid of what may be following me. I’m afraid of your ghost. Do you stalk me from above? In the canopy? In the wind?
I go in search of a future, a life full of the love you couldn’t give or receive. The love I missed. We were alone together, and now I am simply alone. You were not made to last, and I’ve outlasted you. So why should I weep? I don’t envy you now. I made it above the water, and you let yourself sink.
No… My feelings for you are like the tide. Yesterday I wished I could have held my breath and dove deep to find you, down to where the sun’s rays are smothered by the dark. Even if I’d found you, pulled you up to the surface, I would have been carrying a corpse. And if I didn’t? We’d be together in death, suspended in the void, instead of where I am now, eyes fixed on what’s ahead.
A dream: I was there again, staring into the water, the rippling image of your silent face staring back at me, eyes forever open – you disappeared back into the deep, gone forever except for what I have of you with me. Shining years of solitude, faint in the far distance.
Speak with me again. I move too quickly; I’m out of breath. I follow the sun, and each day I move ever closer to nowhere. Each day the light threatens to envelop me, the heat hopes to ignite me. My eyes strain to see the way ahead, and I cannot bring myself to look back.
Just come a little closer. Step into the light. You’ve been gone so long…