It’s What I Left Behind

Fire! I took my socks and shoes and ran…

Photo by Madi Cohen, Bolton, VT

It began with fire,

wood and paper

against enveloping orange flames,

which ate up the world

that was my own.

The flame and smoke tangled and curled

round its plentiful prey,

pulling them down into the fallen beams

and gleaming embers,

the cries of those caught in its trap

piercing the night.

And I took my socks and shoes and ran.

I ran from the flames that chased me.

My world,

which was left behind,

lighting the night

till it was no more than

a golden glow

of what was left behind.

Years later,

when life was worthless

and I sat behind walls,

which were only an expiration date of law,

I waited.

I waited while the people spoke in my ear,

kind words,

good words,

but all I ever heard was run.

Run to forget what was left behind.

So when the day came

and I thought I was free

I took my socks and shoes and ran.

I ran to get away

from the walls and people

that held me prisoner.

And I left it all behind.

When hearts were one

and verses of love were sung to me,

I only heard the clock,

a powerful beat.

And when the ground grew cold,

I felt the ice burn my feet,

and the heart

that once held love

filled with terror.

And I took my socks and shoes and ran.

I ran because I was scared.

I ran so far my socks and shoes

became worn by earth.

It was not until I stopped

and let my body sink into the ground

that it occurred to me

what had always been so clear.

I ran because the flames never stopped chasing me.

It was not what I brought,

but what I left behind.

By Erin Zubarik, Charlotte, VT

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