Debra Kaufman: I Followed Him into the Woods

                             Carnival, by Mary Hatch, 1982, oil on canvas, 36” x 40”



I Followed Him into the Woods

He had a long stride and what Grandma, frowning, would have called exuberance. Something about him made bees fly up from underground and sting me three times. Run! he said, and he did, as venom flowed through my veins. He stopped some fifty yards ahead and knelt beside a log. A violet butterfly fanned itself there. He told me its species name, said it like he was reading it off a flashcard, like I should thank him for it.

Have you ever been poisoned? he asked, breaking off a white mushroom. When air touched it inside, it turned blue, the same shade as his eyes. We walked back to his shack. He said he was going to build a pyramid to live in, like Wilhelm Reich, who learned it from the pharaohs. It slows down time, you don’t get old so fast.

I looked out the window. There’s a porcupine climbing a tree! He shrugged and started sautéeing the mushrooms he’d picked. He sang “Dear Doctor” by the Stones, off-key. His hair in a braid was longer than mine.

He served the mushrooms with wild chives and nasturtiums on tin plates. You’d think I’d have known better, but I ate a whole plateful. He pulled up a chair and stared into my face. I thought he was going to kiss me. But no, he was using my eyes as mirrors. I could tell by the way he was smiling.

We should have chamomile tea, he said, but didn’t make any.

Debra Kaufman

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