Mixed Metaphors
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I looked for you today
in the treeline from my window
in the path over the brook
in the hill where the water gurgles over the rocks
in the glade where a deer leapt away from me
and I saw you everywhere
but I couldn't find you

She thought of him, sleeping under the stars.
Then she thought of how he really slept, under a roof, in a bed far from her home.
What was he afraid of?
thought Susurrus-of-Leaves.
Why did he build walls between them?
Why did he sleep alone?

You were on my mind all day during work
your hair, like waving branches
your skin, smooth and rough and tanned
the two cherry petals your lips
I went into the woods again
and felt you everywhere
but I couldn't see you

She had been watching him since he was young
when he first sat down in that empty field.
She was younger, too, but he could barely survive on his own.
He had come to her, hungry,
picking at branches, sinking his teeth.
Later, he had returned, healthy enough to carry an axe,
and he took his fill of lumber.
When next he came to her, he had a gun in his hands,
and ripped away meat.
Now his skin was sullen and coarse.
His frame was tall and straight, but sturdy.
He smelled like wet dust.
His eyes were like lamplights
and sometimes she could see the machinery turning away behind them.
He was the kid she had known
except now he was beginning to miss her.
She would still give him anything
but she could never understand what he wanted.

Why can I never reach you
Is it my job that's keeping it away
I'll give it up
My home
They can keep it
My money
The clothes on my back
I'll toss them into the river
But nothing would happen
like the ecru man said
The bugs would gnaw at me
as I waited to sleep alone

She remembered watching him lie down in the field,
taking deep breaths of the fall air.
Slowly, under the sun,
he stretched out his arms and legs,
like he was making an angel in the dirt.
Eventually he stretched out so far that he
reached her,
and then crowded her out.
She had to back away as he brushed her aside.
Has he outgrown me?
she had asked the ecru man
who could only sigh with pity.
They never stopped growing,
but they never grew any closer.

I'm sick of looking.
I'm sick of your breath on my cheek
like the warm breeze
I'm sick of your arms outstretched
like branches
I'm sick of your eyes
puddles of rainwater
bright and clear
I'm sick of seeing you everywhere
and never feeling you

The ecru man had a lot of questions.
He seemed to flit in and out,
like a butterfly's wings,
so sometimes he had trouble hearing her answers.
He talked to her lost companion,
but when she asked what he said,
or how he felt,
the ecru man couldn't tell her.
He said it would be like explaining "up" to a square.
She became enraged, rancorous,
wrathful,
and asked what he expected to do with her pain.
He said there was nothing he could do for either of them.
They were too caught up in allegory.

She still wonders what he stands for.
He still wonders what she means.


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