Shadows

(June 12, 2005)

Stop following me.

Actually, I take that back; it's easiest when you're stretching out behind my ambling heels, darkening my sneakers but helpless to change my course. You add weight, all right, but it's ephemeral, two-dimensional, and banished with the flick of a switch. It's not so bad when you follow, because that's where you belong. Feel free to lurk behind me; know your place.

Get out from under my feet.

The problem is when the light shifts and you're suddenly down the path, rather than half a mile back; that's when I can see the present textures and shades, dribbling out from between my toes and wrapping everything familiar in your image. I see how you warp and shift - a head splits into two, arms wrap about themselves with enough flexibility to meet behind two backs, tongues lash and flicker - and while it doesn't hurt, not anymore, it tarnishes your memory. These new shapes break the archetype you occupy, salivate as they prepare to devour your past words, reach for the sun and hand down a rotten orange. (I still can't peel them, but ghosts are no help.)

Stay on your side of the Styx.

Don't force me to confront you, to do my best to lay my treads on your face and press down even though it's impossible to touch you; just stay back there where you can be timeless and forgotten. Why ruin a good remembrance with such blandly aggressive gestures? I'm walking toward the dawn, not out of the sunset, so kindly quiet breaking the laws of physics. Splay yourself across as much well-travelled road as we see fit, but divert yourself so that you're the hell out of my way, because it's a lot brighter out here than it used to be, and not in your direction. Reliving the lost is one thing, but resurrection is just a hopeless plea against the inevitable, and not one I plan to make.