The Traveler

I was a traveler rendered weary
by many miles of senseless journey
through the forest along the shore
upon a flowing stream I rested
removed my shoes with the water tested
sliding my feet into the water's core

My ears they heard a rustle
a faint and distant bustle
on the distant forest floor
The sound I heard was queer
for there was not a person near
not a soul in these shallow woods and moor

My ears found the noise so fleeting
that pursuing was defeating
"just the wind," I thought, "nothing more"
but my ears did again deceive
by what my mind conceived
to be footsteps along the forest floor

I heard the creaking and crackling
just like a witches cackling
a cackle from tales and lore
I cleared my throat as if to speak
but as my courage began to peak
so stopped the rustle upon the forest floor

“Sir, or madam,” so I began
“Trespass I did not plan
If you wish I’ll leave this place,” I swore
But my ears heard not a sound
a trace could not be found
of the one I just deplored

I closed my eyes, my body rested
letting my senses slip untested
slipping to a long and quiet snore
But then I was awakened
so violently I was shaken
by a quaking that rattled me at my very core

I awoke and looked around
but only stillness did abound
no stirring in this forest to explore
Slowly I did arise
to leave this place of lies
but I heard the snapping twigs once more

So far I threw my gaze
into the misty haze
I could see a shape across the moor
So quickly my feet leapt
my eyes could not have kept
their gaze on the object yore

I was running quickly to catch a glance
of the lady or the lance
who shook me to my very core
But as the shape drew near
I called for it to hear
“Let me help you stranger of the moor”

But soon I saw a flowing hair
it was a maiden who gave me scare
cracking and crunching upon the floor
Knowing no town near
again I called for her to hear
“May I help you find the shore?”

By now I saw her plain as night
such a gorgeous, sensuous sight
that stirred my mind all the more
“Madam” I called again
but now she drew within
and ran back into the forests core

Breathing hard so I followed
a gasp of her perfume I swallowed
pushing me to even the score
With every step I neared
my legs more aptly geared
for this chase beyond the moor

But into a clearing she did dash
and in my eyes the sunlight flashed
almost knocking me upon all four
But when my eyes returned
it was quickly that I learned
the maiden was gone, back into the forests core

But in the clearing did arise
a stone so shapely wise
as to be a grave of some ancient lore
with caution I approached
not wishing to encroach
where the dead so cold were stored

I brushed away the filthy grime
and the years of hardened slime
to read the name written in chiseled score
But the epitaph it read,
“Here lays Eliza dead.
To roam this place, nevermore.”

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