Ignition

Forty years ago he was a Boy Scout who took a wrong turn in the woods on one of those interminable Boy Scout hikes. He wasn’t a good Boy Scout. He never paid attention to where he was or where he was going, never tried to keep up with the rest of the troop. He moved slowly, even when the situation called for quick action. When he realized he was lost, he stood still for a while, listening for voices, and finally he heard some. The voices drew him up the mountain. It never occurred to him that this was strange, since the troop had been heading down the mountain originally. He didn’t notice that the light was fading until he stopped being able to see the path beneath his feet. But shortly after that he saw fire in the distance, and the voices grew louder, and he assumed that he had reached the troop’s encampment.

 fall equinox I put on clothes I’ve forgotten

When he came into the clearing, he saw first that the campfire was the size of a large bonfire—the heat kept him from coming nearer—and then that the people around the fire were not his fellow Scouts nor even his fellow human beings. If you stood them next to his family’s ranch house they would be able to lean their elbows on the roof. There were eight or ten of them and their voices were so loud they hurt his ears but he couldn’t understand anything they were saying. It was clear that he was having a dream and it was also clear that the only sensible thing to do in a dream like this was to run as fast as he could as far away as he could, so he began to do that. They found him in the morning at the base of the mountain, asleep at the base of a tree.

first frost I’m finally anonymous

He never told anyone about the dream and he was never fully convinced that it was a dream. Now—is it a mid-life crisis?—he’s hiked up the mountain in search of his vision. It’s dusk, and he hears voices again, sees a fire in the distance. Slowly—he hasn’t grown any faster with age—he moves to the age of the clearing and sees the fire, a much smaller fire than before, and next to it: two giants. Two female giants. No sign of any others. No sound of any others. Just the low rumble of incomprehensible, desultory conversation. The certainty, at last, that it had never been a dream. And the moon overhead with the face of an enormous man.

dandelion clocks my nightmares everywhere

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