i took myself out walking…

by dishpantheism

i took myself out walking the other night. lo-dog loped beside me. normally i experience a great thrill at this time of year when i go walking in the dark. things are just waking up from winter rest. the lilac branch is swelling. the quince is fire-pink even when there is no moon. but on this walk everything felt oppressive. the alleys were suffocatingly narrow. each angle in the street felt cloistered and close. and i was sobbing. i was lapping the block and approaching the heart-shaped hollow at the mouth of the creek bank when i saw something. i was still one cross street away from a complete circuit of the block so there was a lamppost between me and the something. lola didn't pay any mind. but every hair on my body bristled. the something was a blotch of blackness just on the lamplight's edge. it was swaying but there was no wind. it rocked to-and-fro. it was a foot above the ground. the blackness of it was so intense. it was utterly opaque. it seemed to twist and twirl above the street. moved forward and backward. it looked like a long hooded shawl with tattered edges. i could hear my heart beating in my ears but i walked straight at it. i knew it was an illusion but it still terrified me. typically when i walk lola by this route she leads me. that is to say i give her free rein. she does the steering and i absent-mindedly trail behind her. she would normally have led us straight for the something. but for some reason she slowed under the lamp giving me just long enough to see the illuminated branches swaying in the mouth of the heart-shaped hollow before turning onto another block. it was the something. just branches and a trick of the light. my dog is smarter than me by half and a creature with whom i can safely place my faith. well. to a degree. dogs are not people of course.

on the return home i picked a sprig of wormwood. i usually have a hard time detecting the licorice-y notes in it. but i smelled them quite strongly. when we arrived at the railroad crossing i saw two more somethings ahead. they were leaning against the base of the crossing signal. lola walked straight toward them. i was afraid. and i am never afraid of the dark. several paces before the signal i could feel my breath catching. and then the somethings turned into ordinary shadows. an object which is usually not beneath the lamppost was casting shadows i was unfamiliar with and didn't recognize. that was all. silly. 
at one point earlier in the walk i had climbed the hill where the oak splits the road. as i descended i looked down at my shadow. there were two. but one was a shadow of light. for some reason the ambient light was strong enough to reflect up from the street and then off of my body and back to the blacktop. it was lovely. 
wellidy. adieu. 

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