Hafiz came along
and asked what
I was doing
up there in that tree
with soot all over my face
and my hair in greasy knots,
my feet scratched, blistered and bleeding,
my wick burned down to the sputtering last,
my eyes wild and leering,
and talking to myself in curses and run-ons
about trying one last time
to impregnate the sky
with the signal flare seed
of the holy calvary I required.
The snarling, yipping wolves
skulking around the base
of the tree showed no sign of tiring.
I put the last flare into the gun,
whispering an impromptu litany
of sacred incantations and
proposed terms and conditions
and sacrificial boundaries.
the house and car. Take them.
The paintings, too. Fine.
If at all possible, I should like to keep
that bottle of 1921 Bordeaux.
It’s such a small thing, really.
Unexpectedly, the crown of the tree
caught fire. The crackling heat
was extremely unnerving
and I grit my teeth in heroic fashion.
I need a miracle, Hafiz! I shouted,
momentarily squinting down
through the smoke
in his direction for emphasis.
Do you hear me!?
I hear you, he said,
a little nonchalant for my present liking.
But don’t you think it may be best
to let this last one run its course
before we ask for the next?
I looked around,
wondering if I could throw myself
across the gap to the next tree.
A flash of neon pink whizzed by.
Was that a frisbee!??
I watched myself watch
a wolf pup whimper with delight
and dash forth from an explosion of pine needles
to stalk the whirling, lazily-arced disc.
What was this!?
I turned back to the scene below me.
Hafiz was petting the damned alpha male,
who was resting on his haunches,
eyes narrowed with pleasure,
his tongue lolling out
the side of his fang-toothed jaws
in limp satisfaction of a job well done.
Hey, Hafiz! I shouted.
Is this one almost over?
What do you say?
Wanna’ come down?
I booked these guys all night
if you want to shoot that last flare.
Or we could call it.
I thought about it.
Ashes from the burning tree
were stinging my face and arms.
Yeah. I reckon so.
I started looking for a foothold below me.
I tried to lower myself down towards it,
but I was just shaking.
I got hit in the chest by this wave,
by how real it had all felt,
by how close I’d come.
All that running for my life,
stumbling through the trees
like a ghost bleeding out
into the air behind me,
a perfect trail they could follow.
Being hunted night and day with no relief.
Wading the ice cold river.
Shivering, huddled, and nothing to eat.
Carried somehow, by the space around me.
Broken down into fragments,
a gangly collection of whispers and needs.
I coalesced to a point, locked eyes with that wolf.
In the fire above me, I could hear the singers.
In the wolves’ eyes, I could see the dancing flames.
In my tears, the return of eternity to my chest.
Life is a ceremony with the strangest ending.
Whatever happened packs up and moves out of town.
The circus ground is left barren and quiet.
You’re caught in Love’s bag,
held by a power so great you can’t comprehend it,
just so very relieved to be there once again,
with nothing left but the glory of who you are.