The Bayou

by Brookes Washington

Editor's Choice Award

I ain’t ready to go, so I don’t even know why he here. I don’t remember you. You must be mistakin’ me for someone else, anyone else. Yet his small figure remains near, his brown eyes remembering me. See, even the air knows my truth—most ‘em had turned into lies. Makin’ it harder to breathe and even harder to bear. All I can do is dig, dig until the darkness of the soil covers my skin of shame. What am I doing here? A place where only moments in time rest but never leave. A land where life is only imitated but never lives. It’s another fragment of time, where lost souls lay their weary heads to rest.
And yet somewhere between this bayou and trees rests my bones. Tired of this world but not ready to go to the next. The sky burns with the fire of the sunset, lettin’ the light of God’s anger touch the bayou’s peace. The waters are calm like innocence before a storm, like it was before it drowned my sins. Its ripples resurfacing every smile I faked ‘cause I focused too much on others’ blessings instead of my own. Tiny currents of my regret causing swirls of algae to resemble the memories that not even healing would let me forget. And above, all ‘em birds crowing the echoes of faithless nights I questioned God and there was no answer. As I touch the murky memories that flow, the pain is still rich and ever present here, within me.
Beside me, I can feel the boy’s familiar aura, sweeter than the warmth of the sun. He says that I don’t need to worry about those memories—after all they are but only lessons to let go of. Yet, the cypress winds continue to whisper my name. I ain’t ready just yet. We walk to the willow, where it felt like home, where my dreams clung to the hope of leaves. Maybe that’s why she weeps. A gathering of fireflies glides through and around the tree, scaring the darkness away. And with every flutter meant to comfort her, a simple sway of her vines thanks them. I’m too much in awe to tell ‘em that that’s not how the world works.
way for others and they still left me in the dark alone. Too many times I’ve been betrayed by the cowards I called friends. Too many, too many times in the dark. Ain’t nobody gon’ come for me. And all that strange little boy with the peculiar eyes can say is keep going, keep moving toward the light. And so I do. Against the grass that roots my fear, past my pride that grips Eve’s apple. Beyond the spot of the injustices I faced, where the moonlight never touches the ground. The little boy, my companion, only so far behind.
The warmth of the light teases the edges of my troubled mind, Lord knows it is halfway gone. My heart welcomes the energy thriving in this land of worlds, wanting and understanding it was time to go home, to live. That’s the thing about life, about us. We don’t know if we gon’ be alright or if we ever gon’ really find ourselves. But who are we not to try? As I look back for my little brother, I find only footprints left in his place. Only soft vibrations of heaven faintly glow in the absence of him and the bayou.