HIDE AND SEEK
It never was a close run thing;
me, crouched behind some half forgotten tree
waiting like the horizon for the inevitable,
you, stalking through dusk, a rifle in your hand,
both everywhere and nowhere,
your breath the only sign that I had lost.
There was no holy grail here,
the only lighthouse long since abandoned
since no ships have sailed along this coast for years.
In short, I was your only excuse,
and a weak one at that,
fading further from your sight each night that threatened
to become your undoing. There were many times
I almost lost you, the desert in Dubai,
a busy cafe in the backstreets of Berlin,
and when you almost slipped
and fell from the precipice in Scotland (but never once cried out
for help). Something else prevailed then; I doubled back
to make sure that my footprints were emblazoned in the sand,
I stayed for one more coffee and the after dinner mint,
and caught your wrist to pull you from the brink,
then vanished in a puff of smoke.
So maybe I have lied, and it was closer than I ever thought,
perhaps you were always further from the truth
than we imagined, and quests have only value in the knights
who ride for them. Regardless,
I must say farewell although I hunt for you on every corner,
and have counted “Mississippi” for a lifetime.
When the dust had settled
and only the birds were moving
and they had collapsed to the ground
in exhaustion, Fox and Hound regarded each other
with deep suspicion. The hunt had picked them up
like children, and carried them for miles
across rivers, mountains, doorways,
thresholds crossed that they would never cross again,
and they knew it. Hound had seen
the flash of red around the corner,
some indents in the snow; Fox had heard
only the footsteps up the garden path
and the lifting of a latch at midnight.
Now there were only the birds.
Keeping half an eye on Hound,
Fox surveyed the trees and sky surrounding them.
Hound hoped his pack was not too far behind,
but knew that he was lost.
The sunset demanded an audience,
so they turned and crouched
only by definition side by side
as the light drained from the world.
They could smell jasmine.
They could see how far they had come.
Hound stood and walked further,
with a furtive glance at Fox, who followed.
Only the birds were watching.
by Johnny Lucas