A Willingness & Warning

Jac Jemc

Millie is happy, here, in the forest, saying “Beware,” again and again. She has wept smoothly down long trails and squeezed herself into skirts of certainty, and, now, I wouldn’t be surprised if she never wants to leave. She comes up behind hikers and campers and the wayward youth whispering: “The ground shall tell all” and “The eternal lies beside you and me.”

Millie grew up happy, but a switch was flipped somewhere once and then flipped back again later. What I’m trying to say is that she has known the reverse – bare and farther away from the present, still. She learned, “Murder finds time in a minute one doesn’t even know is there” and also “A minute is not long enough to ask all the questions the yellow rooms later will.”

Young opinions and decisions were happening everywhere and the peaceful spinning wheel of memory was catching it all. Millie would note that the man was gone and then the next minute he would still be gone. Poems and apartments were left behind. The subway platform was filled with sparrows. Everywhere. Millie thought, “I was almost a fool” and “I am swollen with caution now.”

That night, Millie only got as far as the buried trains would carry her. She had heard of a land where trees grew tallest on the skyline, where the twisting days sounded only slightly, like bird calls and rustling leaves. She would find that place soon, but, for now, she had another strangled night to lay down with the city. The hot concrete beneath her fought the voices which passed, unawares. She dreamed of nature beyond the eye of the city and of the dead plants from the hallway of her grandmother’s house.

When the dew woke her, heavy on her skin, Millie found her way to her feet and her feet found her walking the questionable distance between city and country. This area looks something like a road with a small gravel shoulder. Millie was unable to see much more because she was remembering from where she’d come and imagining what was ahead. Before she knew it, a truck carrying a man who was traveling the world around with a load at his back, had pulled up and opened his passenger door. “You’re not a foolish missionary are you?” and “Don’t you know there’s a certain finger that works better than that one for hitchhiking?”

When they had traveled only a very short distance, Millie asked to be let out. The driver was smart and refrained from asking questions. Millie climbed out of the cab and down into the field beside them. The driver didn’t wait to see if she got where she was going; he had work to do which involved steering himself away from this point. Millie was aiming herself at the woods beyond the field and her focus made the distance seem short.

She hummed and whistled while she made her way to the trees.

Millie made herself a life of clean work and reality in the forest. She had made her mistake and now she was committed to survive it. I have seen her. The “Beware” from her lips has landed beside me by the campfire. I can see the clean nests in the branches above me and it’s easy to tell that she sleeps in a different one each night so they won’t find her. When I feel her near, I say, “They’ve stopped looking” and “Come out; it’s safe now.”

Jac Jemc has work forthcoming from featherproof, Word Riot, Wigleaf, Handsome, Bird Dog, and bearcreekfeed, among others, and blogs rejections in a friendly way at jacjemc.wordpress.com