My Shadow, My Friend

The desert is barren, drier than I remember.
In the distance, the sand is billowing.
It’s either a sandstorm or another human, but it doesn’t matter which.
When a red cloth waves in the distance, I wonder if I should dare hope.
“How can you brave this alone?” A man’s voice circles.
“I didn’t plan to,” I reply meekly, unsure if my sound is received.
“Haven’t you seen my brother; didn’t he tell you I was coming?” The voice is closer.
“He told me, but I turned my back. I didn’t want to hear.”
“I’m here now, I can carry you.”
“I’m heavy with shame and guilt.” The sand makes my tongue rough and my words slow.
“My donkeys will carry your burden,” he assures me, motioning the snaking line behind him.
“No caravan of donkeys,
No deserts of sand,
No oceans or mountains
Nor largest of man
Can carry my burden.”

He smiles at me and I see now, his eyes are translucent.
He is my delirium, my conscience, my inner battle.
He is the holder of my wild woman,
The one who contains me and sets me free.

We travel side by side. We talk about the dry desert and the heaviness. Sometimes we lie down together and face each other in weariness. Mostly we trek through the unchanging landscape.
We fear no wild creature or storm, we don’t fret about direction. Everything to dread and love, to kill and conquer, to quiet and evoke is within.

I will carry the burden all my life, it is mine to bear. But the Understanding man will be with me.

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