There’s a breach in the hull. There’s nothing left to keep this soul in place. I gloss the streets lusterless, without vigor. Even her lips lack serifs. Her eyes aren’t enough to light the stone hearth within me. I spread my fingers in whole steps but only hear half toes that scratch at my ear lobes. I reach up hopeful for a drop of blood, but I’m not so fortunate. I’m not so grateful. I should be in a grate, full of crushed glass and refuse and homeless men’s bottom papers.
I once read of a fire that could take the pain away — all the pain. “To burn it out of existence,” the tome read, titled “Conflagration of the Soul.” A cleansing of the forest within, sparked by the howl of a brown bear swiping for salmon in the river-shed. But the beast’s howl failed me. I’ve mustered nothing more than a rumbling growl. There is no more water within me. I am empty. Barren. Hell, a rubbing of claws would ignite me. Yet I’m still here. And, imagination has failed me. The will of the forest is not within me. Not anymore.
Look, I followed the tome. I flipped the Han Shu token. But both sides were the same. Me. My reflection. Not the bear. There was no “other” side. There is no place where I can feel something. Where I can feel anything. I can’t find it. And no, I don’t go sleep deprived of it. I don’t take sharp nails to cold feet in lieu of it. I lose process of thought in mid day, wondering when some semblance of life will pass through me. As if I were here — as if I were really, ever here.
I lose focus when she speaks to me, worrying I’ll move through this life like a leaf fallen from the magnolia tree. Crunching and rolling and ruffling along the cement. Gashed and bruised and bitten from the rats and ravens mistaking these veins for something sweet. Bitter, I dream of life unscathed. I revel in a life still on the tree, reaching for the same things as my buds and fellow leaves. The light so far, yet so clear.
Give me a direction. I don’t want to go backward, but I will if you let me. Give me anything. I’ll find my way. Where the moss grows green.
But you won’t.
For the will of the forest is no longer within me.
Not when I’m floating this far out at sea.
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