Haunted

The air was frigid.
Strange for summer,
calm, like the earth was holding
her breath, free
of cicadian rhythms,
and her intuition told
her to be afraid.

She would walk the path
alone, turning slightly,
as if she felt watchful gaze
of something beyond
her understanding.

It wasn’t there for her,
she thought, but her skin
prickled, feeling the tiniest
amount of fear, a shadow
cast over her courage.

If she could just cross the bridge,
get over the small anxiety,
perhaps this goul would be
like the old wive’s stories.

Her legs had turned to pillars,
heart battering against her
rib cage– such effort it would
take to break this dampening
spirit.

A few steps from the threshold,
her curiosity conquered her fear,
what she saw would only chill her
to her soul.

No beast lay in wait to snatch up,
and eat her, nor was it any ghost
of lore, not clinging on to darkness
No jaberwocky to undo
her forest wandering.

There in the clearing, alone and dirty,
stood a child,
watching as if he’d
seen the fall of man,
through her.

His eyes betrayed distrust, a sense of
distant disappointment,
he’d step back into cover if she looked
like she might move toward him.

She thought of many things, tried to lure him with candy, singing soft
little lyrics to a child who would jump
at clapping.

Eventually, she turned away, glancing back, as if the
child might change his mind,
to cross the bridge,
come home with her.
He only stared back, his
gaze never wavered.

Some nights she woke from
deep sleep,
wondering if she had heard
sounds of
children laughing.

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