The entrance to the walking trail
is framed by overgrown bushes. It is daunting,
spewing out a sinister aura into my backyard
as the forest tries, fruitlessly, to rid itself of an illness.
The entry looms whenever I stare
from my kitchen window. Years ago, deep along
the path, my hiking partner barked, a muffled cry
of thrill as she tried to lift a discovery with her teeth.
I approached, she dropped the skull; its hollowed
holes gazed up at me. Moving a fallen branch,
I made out brittle hips and a shattered hand.
I kneeled with a hand over my nose,
anticipating a smell I knew
would not be there. Slices of a yellow fabric lingered—
clothing I’d find at a thrift store, tangled with bones, knotted
tendrils of hair still attached. I draped my jacket over
the butchered heap, a long forgotten killing;
my path felt poisoned.
The dog whined, tail eager, waiting for my consent to take
a cursed white stick home. My muscles stiffened,
I made us turn around, and we followed the trail
back without stopping.
*originally published April 2015, The Burg