Follow Me, or Don’t

I look for the sun through the branches of pine,
don’t bother unless you’re willing to get scratched. My shoes
are muddy because rain didn’t cease for a week. Your sword
may help you slash branches out of your way, but the residue
from the sap will sting when you wipe it away. Leap
for me, take this on faith, only one time have I led you into fire.

You don’t remember this, but I tried to put out that fire.
You were busy planning the next thing, planting pines,
looking, thinking, wondering if you should make the leap,
and I was running around the yard with one shoe,
carrying water to put out flames that wouldn’t die, the residue
from the house was an artifact of you and me. Hold your sword

where you can use it, you carried it too far to leave it, your sword,
your baby, your favorite toy, your focus while I was putting out the fire,
I would say it’s fine, but it’s not, it’s not really, is it? You left residue
on my face when you forgot how much I needed us, when you chose pines
and didn’t look at me while I fought for us. I lost one, then the other shoe,
and I didn’t want to tell you how much it hurt, but you were so far, I’d have to leap

to get to you or even to lie to you. My legs are tired, no strength to leap
over the chasm, to ask you to wipe tears from my face, to put away your sword
and help me, lift us out of the ruins, grab your bucket and find my shoes.
I don’t remember the faces of people in dreams, I lost them in the fire
and you don’t remember to look at me when I’m running, so pine
away in the dark if you want to deceive yourself, or follow me and wipe residue

of dried tears from my cheeks, it’s been so long it’s stuck on, the residue
remaining after the spirit evaporated. You give me space to leap,
you say, yet you do not bridge the gap in the other direction, the pines
we planted do not bridge it, not upright, not cut down. Some days your sword
cries out to me with the pain you’ve inflicted. I know pain from your hand, fire
that you ignored, hands you didn’t hold, I remember why I put on my shoes,

ran and kept running, till flames called me back and I lost a shoe
running for our future, what I thought we’d planned together: the residue
of our burnt-up future haunts my dreams, the hollowed-out bricks the fire
left for us to remind us that you abandoned them, and maybe if I leap
to find you in the place you disappeared to, you will drop your sword
and run into my arms, but no, you wouldn’t do that, and so I run for the pines.

Whether or not you find your shoes and chase me to the pines,
whether or not you wipe the night’s residue from your sword,
whether you forgive the fire, promise you choose some direction to leap.