Bright Shirt

by John Riley

Do not come and tell me you are dead. That when the red rage left my eyes, death raised your stiff arms. That I threw you in the hole behind the mountain.

I am the clear wind. You are not dead. You left to never return. Some who live in our town begged you to stay. My wife fell to her knees and cried for God to change your mind. The sun slipped from the hands of the clouds and shone down on her for everyone to see. My friends hid their faces and left us alone in the village square.

You walked away and never looked back. I watched you melt into the black day. Now you come and accuse me. It was not my blade that graced your back. I did not go to my home and take my knife off the wall. I did not leave my wife as she cried. I did not hide the knife in the folds of my shirt nor turn my eyes to the far hills which I could cross, and I did not wait there for you in the dark mouth of the cave in the cliff that looks over the stream the men of God use to wash the dead of their sins.

There were no shadows from where the weary sun had turned black behind the cave’s mountain when you approached. Do you think that, like a spear that moves quietly as smoke, I slipped from my nest and drove my blade through your bright shirt? The shirt that glowed in the dusk like a whore’s eyes.

Should I care if you who are full of lies is dead? Go to my house. Go to my wife. She is the one who drove the knife into your back with lies and tears and shame. She is the one who forced me to pack my few goods on the back of my old mule and leave my village. It does you no good to come to me with your lies. It does you no good to wrap me in your stare. It does you no good to bring me your death.

John Riley suffers from nonexistent personality disorder. He wishes there was at least one of him. He has published fiction and poetry widely. So there’s that.
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