Emma Mehegan

equinox staff

I had to say goodbye to my castle on a hill

The hill, which in the spring teemed with birdsong and the laughter of a brook,

Newly melted and curling itself through the budding forest in triumph

The hill, which in the summer overlooked a lake that sparkled like royal jewelry,

And adorned itself with green trees that danced along to the wind’s careful choreography

The hill, which in the fall blazed with fire as the trees gave their grand finale,

Bursting with stationary fireworks, their jubilant tribute to life

The hill, which in the winter, though all seemed dead, sparkled with twinkling light,

Keeping safe the beauty of the trees with great coatings of icy fairy dust

And the hill, atop which I sat in the dirt, hand caressing the cool, rough earth

Because I had to say goodbye.

My castle stood watching passively as always,

Yet I know it was filled to bursting with precious memory

Eyes closed, I can see them all, and my younger self dances across my eyelids,

Careless and laughing, unaware of future goodbyes, head thrown back with abandon.

Versions of me I no longer know, yet hold very dear, swept past:

There I am playing in the big room, the one that was always too cold in the winter,

I scream as my brother plays a trick, and I run up the winding wooden stairway

The one that leads to my room, the room with picture windows,

The room in which I am a princess:

I rule over my hill, over the silvery moonlight that shines perfectly onto my bed on clear nights,

Over the winking stars that keep me company when I feel alone,

Over the lake, the dear lake in which I’ve spent happy hours

Being a mermaid, swimming here and there, imagining my hair flowing red behind me;

Being the helpless victim of a dramatic shipwreck;

Being a romantic castaway on my small desert island

The one that was a rock, the rock that could be a dinosaur, a mighty brontosaurus

My father used to tell me about the dinosaur which was a rock

It was his when he was young like me,

When his father owned the castle and the hill which was his kingdom.

I didn’t know then that kings could die and kingdoms fall

I didn’t know then that my castle on a hill would one day cease to be mine

I opened my eyes against the tide of memories which continued to bombard me ruthlessly,

My hand stopped trailing through the earth that wasn’t mine

My eyes flicked from trees to sky to grass to lake, longing to capture all that was around me

So that I could own, at least, the captured glances.

A solitary tear wound its way down my face like the brook around my hill

Because I had to say goodbye.