A Trail Through Woods

Aimee Parkison


Remember the way I felt at the burnt motel when we discovered the naked girl, the ashes of her eyes like bruises, black and gray. She held the gun, pointed at us. On the singed bed, her patchwork jeans wilted, abandoned. 

You were like Houdini disappearing into shadows like straightjackets to hold me, to keep me from calling 911. We heard more shots in the distance. Shots were coming from every direction, near and far, but we couldn't see who was shooting and didn't know why. I still shiver inside, sometimes at night, quite still, holding the gun.

Because I could never forget, I had to go back.

I found the girl who hid inside the wall of the burnt motel because the ashes of her eyes were like bruises. 

Even now, she doesn't know about you and what you've done. I haven't told her yet. 

I fall in love with her, as she teaches me how to use ash to camouflage my face in the night, to think of myself as a bee inside the smoke stain, like her, in the ash hive with the others hiding inside these blackened walls, buzzing. 

In this honeycomb of wallpaper, if one queen fails, the hive has a backup queen. Think of me this way: a baby backup bee, a potential new queen spinning among small dark buzzing in the excrement of wax-moth larvae. In the silken trails of the hive's destroyed combs, I writhe in the beautiful house of the Italian honeybee, where I'll bring you down so deep you can actually see the machine the beekeeper uses to stir us. 

Smoke inhalation in the dark wax of the brood combs, the beekeeper will drag you as the shooter reloads. The beekeeper uses an ether roll, collecting bees off combs of singed boards inside walls. He rolls ether-killed bees in his bag. I'm lost in waiting with the naked girl and the other bees, waiting for him to roll me, as he rolls the others. I'm still waiting for him when the first queen fails to see the wallpaper's peonies smoldering. 

As flames consume the lobby, we're walking over the peonies in moonlight. The way we walked long ago, the night you set the motel on fire. There's a trail here through the woods and we're kissing, holding hands under the trees behind you when she loads the gun and asks me to show her the place where you walked when you were a child, long before she knew me.