The lantern

The bridge was here when I bought the place
arching slightly
ever so slightly
enough to rise above the fall rains. 

The path 
to the back of my property 
gets steeper every year 
eroded over time and rainfall.

The cows won’t quit complaining 
tonight, every night
the crickets never let up
hissrattleshatterscreachbuzz

my lantern bobs its light ahead of me
golden light reminding me 
of my younger sister’s hair

reaching into my skirt pocket 
I grab my wooden pipe,
some wooden matches

I heard panting beside me

it was coming from the right of me, 
close
north east to me
close enough to prey on me

(heavy breathing; 
 sweaty, 
 wet,
 gnarly)

The breath had teeth.

I showed the darkness my lantern, 
shoving it ahead of me
"I have fire", I warned the darkness. 

I stayed a while
lingering in the shadows
waving my lantern across 
the ground ahead of me. 

The fear of the dead 
of winter
frosted over my breath
lingering in the air, 
just there. I swatted at it
like I would a fly.

I turned around and 
walked back over 
the creek determined not 
to let fear 
get a hold of me.

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