s c o r c h e d
I attempt to locate the path hidden beneath my blistered feet, beneath layers of leaves decayed, beneath the surface of an aged and cracked earth. I fling these words like fire against the ubiquitous black that plunges down from the void far above these trembling trees shaking with the canticles of cicadas, far above these scattered clouds glowing lucent in the dim moonlight, far above those distant and lonely stars.
I quicken my pace as I feel the weight of watching, of unblinking eyes hidden deep in the folds of a heavy night draped like a threadbare cloak swaddling distant and jagged peaks, entrenched in age and infused with fossils, those hardened echoes of struggles lived and forgotten and buried in perpetual darkness.
The sharp crack of a branch long dead signals my advance as I cradle this brittle light that burns hot in my scorched hands, luminous words I scatter to the wind like fireflies that weave their way through the surrounding pitch if only to be witnessed—if ever so briefly—by others who sojourn these pathless woods as they attempt forge their own fires, their lined faces flashing transiently out of this ubiquitous darkness, framed in yellow flame as they look toward me and nod with the knowing of weary vagabonds searching desperately for destinations long vanished and vanquished by time.
The cicadas cease their bickering, and I stop to see those wide, greedy teeth, burning white before me against the flickering flames held in my hands. Soon it will shed its cloak and cast itself forward to extinguish these words, these embers that glow and burn and perish beneath the void, this endless ballet in which only the death of reborn fire lives on.