path leads into forest of leafless trees

A Walk after the Evening News

The whole world seems off
kilter. Even birds overhead
fly at jagged diagonals,
suturing the sky
until the sun warms only the backs
of clouds. Around me,
the leathery skins of diseased elms
sluff off in long strips about my feet,
exposing bare and vulnerable trunks.

Carved into the face
of a lightning-dead sycamore,
someone’s name gapes as if trying
to shout Hello! or Goodbye! or Help!
I turn to run before the lightning
that struck it strikes me,
but the path ahead, wrapped
in a tangle of blackberries and briars,
becomes strange and unfamiliar.

I slump on a log to get my bearings,
but the world descends upon me
like notes in a minor key,
disconnecting me from myself
until I am a silent drone
untethered, alone,
spying on the man I used to be,
the man who always knew
his way back home.