It was like waking from a dream
to the reality I should have had,
but I was still awake in the smell of pine
when I heard the drumming.
The flicker of candlelight licked at the screen.
My bare feet to the wood and
I saw them, slow and single file.
I fell in at the end of the line,
their song left my mouth and went into the trees
in a forest I barely knew.
Somewhere between my childhood ending
and the smell of sage,
we rounded down crude stone steps.
A woman’s thumb dragged paint across my cheeks.
Her irises were violet.
Her hair just beginning to sprout silver threads.
I knew her as she looked wholly into my eyes
with nothing to hide from me.
The embers clung to the earth,
but fire billowed into smoke.
All of it succumbed to the sky.
In a circle we stood grasping each other’s hands
almost frightened that such beauty
would blow us all apart.
Moonlight drowned us there,
nestled in a forgotten nook of the Appalachians.
Photograph by Matthew Smith