Walking alone through night on the third day of fall; walking to the store to buy a lighter – hair loose and makeup is fading, smiley lips at the busy busy people with their various lives – I look like I’m going somewhere by the way I gaze ahead and slightly skyward and the way the heels of my boots sound on the ground (he told me once that he is in love with the sound of my footsteps on wet pavement).

I’m not going anywhere, really- the lighter was an excuse to get out of the house and to have a sense of direction in what really is wandering alongside other people (I wonder if they have meaningful direction, and if such meaningful direction can be revealed by the speed at which people walk).

In the convenience store I ask for a lighter (they quietly wonder ‘what does she smoke?’) and I want to tell them that I don’t smoke much weed unless I’m drunk with friends who offer it with glazed eyes and the suggestion of escape. I never smoke cigarettes because I don’t want to be sad like my father on Christmas day who allows himself his “Christmas Cigarette” and looks both anxious and nostalgic and full of regret even though he always says “I have no regrets.” I don’t tell them any of these thoughts and feel inexplicably guilty for keeping them to myself.

Walking home down the same street which now looks ominous. The sun has fully set itself (goodbye lovely streaks) and the moon is out and pale and menacing because it lights the faces of strange men; I allow myself to accept that they are not strange; they are strangers strangers. (Does the moon become menacing, or anything else, depending only on what it illuminates?) I walk quickly past the areas where men gather outside and discuss their monotonous lives punctuated by girls’ “cute butts” (they are profoundly still; lacking meaningful direction).

At this time of year the white hydrangeas look the most beautiful in rain or the light of dusk (I once cried while he was walking beside me; it was morning and a white hydrangea in the light rain as well as his hand in mine was enough beauty to both break and sustain me).

With the lighter I light a bundle of sage. It is green and white sage. It smells like the forest and like something else I cannot name. Something reverent. After a while I run cold water over the wand of sage to quell the glowing embers before he is home and I am no longer with only myself.