992 A WALK IN THE WOODS 04-27-21

(offensive word used here by one of the characters. sorry.)

It was just a spring walk

in the dogwood and cherry

in a wood alongside

a dirt road

off another.

I came upon a ramshackle shack.

An old man sat on the porch.

Not on a rocker,

not on a disheveled cotton-stuffed couch.

Rather, on a stump,

his back against a post.

I waved a tentative hello,

memories of dueling banjos

echoed in my head.

With his forearm, he beckoned me.

It seemed an order I had to obey.

He smiled as I walked near.

I smiled back.

His vanished.

His wrinkled, leathery face,

his gray stubble,

his dried out white skin

coalesced into a sadness.

He didn’t wait for small talk.

He said,

“Is there anything worse

than a dream deferred?

I’ been reading some nigger poet lately.

Yeah! I have!

So I ask you,

is there anything worse

than a dream deferred?”

I shrugged. Waited.

“I’ll tell you, Sonny,

there is.

It’s a dream forgotten,

left behind in a life moved on…

A dream deferred,

at least,

lives.

Swirling around in a mind,

pushing it somewheres…

Doesn’t matter where.

It still jostles.

Maybe it makes ya move.

Maybe it makes ya rage…

But a dream forgotten

is dead to the dreamer,

like a corpse

by the side

of a quiet country road.”

I glanced at his knife

sheathed on his belt.

I hid a shiver.

“…or stuffed in some dumpster

in some city alley.

Yeah.

That’s where mine is!”

I thought

what does this old man know

of city streets?

Then the old man stood up.

He stared at me

and then down the road

in the direction I was heading.

“Best walk on, Son.

If you find something’ as you go,

maybe in a ditch, somewheres down aways,

don’t stop.

Don’t try to resuscitate it.

It died forever ago.

No one will ever know.

Afternoon.”

He turned and walked inside.

I started walking back toward

where I’d come.

I didn’t fear enough to run.

Maybe I should’ve.

He might’ve had a gun.

But not for a stranger,

I hoped.

I felt a twitch in my spine

right below the shoulder blades.

What dream had that old coote

forgotten?

Was it his?

Had he killed it?

Or had it died some other

unnatural death?

I didn’t ever want to know.

I did not enjoy

the blossoms in the woods

that day.

About Ken Greenman

Married and Happy. Retired and busy. Living in NC. 71 and counting. December 12, 2020 and it's 72! ... I would love some written comments, critiques, adulation or kind suggestions.... If you have the time and or inclination, please feel free! Not in fear but by faith. We will see. See you later! If you ever want to talk for real, email me and I will send you my cell number.... I am enjoying this!
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