Shadow People

The majestic trees stand silent as their burnt leaves free-fall to the ground.
The short season to live and die is upon us.
There is no wind to make the journey playful, less somber.
The leaves will be stomped on, trampled or simply shriveled into paper-thin nothingness.
Some say autumn is their very favorite time of year.
Yes, some truly enjoy the fall and her misty rains, carved pumpkins, and bumpy hayrides.
Oh dear, not me, not really.
Fast forward through winter, and then spring, please.
Okay, perhaps I like fall a little.
I enjoy the vivid colors, and the brisk breeze.
I do not appreciate the cloud cover, morose grey day, or the torrents of rain.
I do not enjoy them, no not at all.
I am never ready to say goodbye to the blazon summer, and scorching, yellow sun.
I am ill prepared, forever thrust into the dark without her light.
I walk, head bowed down, deep in thought gazing at the bleak, gravel underfoot.
I step smack in the middle of a mess, a huge pile of dog shit.
My foot crunches like mushy popcorn, and I am unsteady in these woods.
I stop.
I stop, and sigh.
I stop and gaze underfoot, rolling my eyes and plugging my nose.
I stop in my tracks for the briefest moment, bracing myself against a towering, leaning maple, feeling her grooves, chipped bark, all her hidden secrets buried inside the nooks and crannies.
Oxygen.
Is she the same tree I walked past days before without a nod of recognition?
Probably, most assuredly I did not think about it.
The greed obsessed world spiraling all around me.
I can be selfish like that.
I don’t care about the minute details or the moment.
I don’t care about my last second’s breath.
I don’t see death as sad or lonely, but pure stardust release.
One more exhausting, human emotion buried under a pile of leaves.
Burn me with the brush and indifference; scatter my ashes to the wind under the prettiest summer’s eve and her blazing, pink sun.
A red, hot sun drying and scorching the tears of those I once loved.
Perhaps I’ll be less than a leaf, the shadow person reminder.
Maybe no one will remember me at all.
I’m not dead yet, although sometimes I wonder why have I existed?
Was there an order to my chaos?
Is there a secret message hidden on the wind that betrays me, gone stagnant with fall?
I hug the tree, hoping the shadow people are dancing beside me.
It is not breezy at all, and a few, faded green leaves on the barren twigs brush against my knees swinging to and fro, waving, smiling and doing a jive taunting me.
I wonder which ghost has stood in this precise spot too many years to count before me, contemplating a life.
Did they live in constant crisis or peril, or were they filled with love and joy, gratitude their preferred human emotion?
And so the cruel courtship remains; life and death in between the inhale and the exhale.
Were the shadow people blinded by anger, hate, fear, and ignorant blissful self- righteousness?
Or maybe they were kind, living a life filled with purpose?
I can’t help but be curious wrapping my arms tighter around the tree as night falls too fast and my body quivers.
Snowflakes remind me that autumn has passed one more time around the sun.
I shift ever so slightly, smiling down at my feet.
Dog shit stinks the same in every season.
Time to move forward, as I fall into winter white.
The ghosts dance twirling and rejoicing the autumn foliage, whispering forgotten names.

Photo Credit: George Amaro Flickr via Compfight cc








Jacqueline Cioffa

A retired, international model, and celebrity makeup artist. Co-Author of Model Citi Zen, the guide. Founder of
http://modelcitizenmakeup.blogspot.com/. Author of numerous prose pieces in various literary magazines. Most recently published in Little Episodes Brainstorms the anthology, among esteemed artists Sadie Frost, Melvin Burgess and Todd Swift.

15 thoughts on “Shadow People

  1. Lizzi Reply

    I keep reading and re-reading this and coming back to different parts because the whole is so compelling and the parts so beautiful, but most of all I’m struck by this – “I don’t see death as sad or lonely, but pure stardust release.” -and I don’t know why…

    1. Jacqueline CioffaJacqueline Cioffa Reply

      Hi Lizzi,

      Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. We spoke about how the essay came from the universe and through me on FB, and I LOVED your inspired poem.
      You should submit it to FC! I keep going back to that line myself.
      It’s curious, weird and haunting. <3 Death can be such a taboo subject in anglo saxen cultures.

      xx Jackie

  2. Jacqueline CioffaJacqueline Cioffa Reply

    Dori,

    You are such a beautiful soul. I can feel your spirit, your sparkly roots and wings across the miles. I hope one day we will be encumbered in these bodies, but not too soon 🙂 and can meet in the heavens. I will know your essense eyes closed, and be delighted to giggle and remininsce with you.

    X Jackie

  3. Elaine Mansfield Reply

    “I am ill prepared, forever thrust into the dark without her light.” I get it, Jackie, and here we are in the grayest climate of all. On this dark November day, I’ll be grateful when night comes and I light a candle. Still, when I go outside and lean into a big tree, I know I’m OK. I know I’ve seen a lot but they’ve seen it all for so much longer. I wonder how many cycles of life and death they know. How many times of losing everything, but still not falling. Beneath the big red oak where my husband’s ashes lie, I wonder how many have fed this tree and this forest with the remains of their life. (And stepping in dog shit is no fun!)

    1. Jacqueline CioffaJacqueline Cioffa Reply

      Elaine,

      I can not imagine the emotions this piece may have stirred up for you.
      I’ve read your poignant essays about your husband, your grand love, grief and the beautiful ways you honor his memory.. I can only hope you feel his strong presence beneath the big red oak, and it brings you comfort. The trees must look down at us and smile I hope. I wonder, too. When I light the candles this eve, I will think of you sending you warmth and light. We’re OK, dog shit and all. Thank you. XX

  4. SA SmithSA Smith Reply

    “Maybe no one will remember me at all.”

    Oh my darling friend, EVERYONE will remember you.
    You are a shimmering soul among the masses of dying lights.
    Burning brightly, guiding the way for the lost ones.

    It’s always the special ones that feel everything so deeply.

    1. Jacqueline CioffaJacqueline Cioffa Reply

      Sherri,

      You are the light I bounce back from. Maybe no one will remember me one hundred years from now (or less), but your friendship NOW makes the journey feel special, full of light and loved.

      Thank you.
      J

  5. My Inner ChickMy Inner Chick Reply

    ***I do not appreciate the cloud cover, morose grey day, or the torrents of rain.
    I do not enjoy them, no not at all.
    I am never ready to say goodbye to the blazon summer, and scorching, yellow sun.***

    Never. Ever. Ready.

    Love this, Jackie.

  6. Mary Rowen Reply

    I love all of this, Jackie, especially the part about wondering which ghost has stood in the same spot as you, contemplating. Autumn has a way of bringing up thoughts like that. Really beautiful.

    1. Jacqueline CioffaJacqueline Cioffa Reply

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much. It’s funny how you can walk the same path, and some days the ghosts feel like they’re hovering while others the woods are eerily quiet. Autumn and winter do tend to stir up the senses. lol

      xx Hope you are well.
      Jackie

  7. doriowendoriowen Reply

    “Burn me with the brush and indifference; scatter my ashes to the wind under the prettiest summer’s eve and her blazing, pink sun.” Oh, where do I begin? This thoughtful poem might be my new favorite, and perhaps because I feel this way, too. I’ve read it twice and will likely read a few more times to savor these delicious autumnal thoughts. You and the written word are a delightful marriage, J. xoD.

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