It started as I fell asleep
I was with her in a forest
The trees tall and healthy green
The scent of pine mixes with her purfume
As the scene combusts
She runs ahead, with her hand held back
Screaming “follow me”
As she fades out from the smoke
Just as it blinds me

I awaken, in some measure,
To a blackened plain
With the last scent of the forest
Soaked into the front of my shirt
I step forward
Though unsure of the way to go
So I jog forward
Or at least what I assume is forward

I come to a shack
On the edge to a vast desert
A old man from inside tells me
I was going the right way
But I couldn’t smell her purfume
Over the smell of his field of seedlings
Coated in wet manure

As I run through the desert
I look behind me
And see the farm in ruins
With the ground sucked dry
By the now-towering trees
It is clear
That time here was swifter than I

The sand chips my skin
And my eyes burn with the wind
But a car drives by
Old and rusty, as all things here-
Things running out of time
The driver accepts me
But their face is hidden in a helmet
And their mouth hidden by a scarf
They vanish, just as the gas does
And I am walking the sands again

Something gleams ahead
And I run to it-
This young thing in an old land
It is a hotel
With chrome handles free of rust
And painted walls free of chips
A man in a suit rides the elevator with me
He tells me it has been a year
Since I have seen her

The elevator stops rising
As the floors below instantly age
And crumble
I wait until the hotel becomes a motel
And step out on the top floor
Which is now the bottom
The desert has frozen and turned to snow

My hands now grip a snowmobile
As I ride over the dunes
Someone beside me howls
Through the blizzard air
That she is ahead, I must drive fast
And ever so long
So as months pass
I pursue

But now a voice calls from my other side
And says that I’ve been led astray
That she has gone the other way
To turn back would kill the engine
Or kill me
Not to mention the months now wasted
Despite this, I go after her

I pass the hotel
Nothing more than glass and dust
I pass the car
Nothing more than a rusty husk
I look for the shack,
But see nothing where it once stood
My vehicle dies
Here at the edge of a great forest

The deja vu hits me
As I see a new shack ahead of me
With seedlings outside
Waiting to replace the lost trees
A flame travels from my foot
And ignites this section of the woods

I look around me
There is no more desert,
No more hotel,
No more arctic tundra,
Only trees darkening the horizon
They grow so swiftly
As time goes by so fast
So fast without her
I could set them ablaze one at a time
But the hours would be lost
As they grow back; like wildfire

How long as it been?
I look to my hands, wrinkled and ashy
As tears well up in my eyes
For her hands must look the same
Wherever they are
Assuming they’re still warm
Or would even recognize my touch

I build a house – a coffin – to wait for death
Though while I sit waiting
The walls crumble from the rage of time
From their rusted pores
I see a distant inferno

From the trees, a young woman appears
She is so beautiful, looking just like her
I raise my hand to shout
But I see my threadbare skin
And fear for her seeing me
So I stay in my shack
As she turns around
Cluches her heart
And runs back into the flames

Minutes, hours, months
They all pass
And a young man appears
Wearing a shirt soaked
With the last moisture of the forest
I could tell he would seek the girl
I tell him to seek forward
Though his destination was far behind
Perhaps it was to spare him the pain
Of finding her with wrinkled hands
Or perhaps it was my own jealousy

No matter,
The trees are towering over me now
My shack turns to dust
Just as I do
With no soil’s moisure
Or tears
To unparch this heart
I wake up, in some measure
-Galwyn

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