Oyster Boy Review 13  
  Summer 2001
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» Levee 67


I Followed Him into the Woods

Debra Kaufman

He had a long stride and what Grandma, frowning, would have called exuberance. Something about him made black bees fly up from underground and sting me three times. Run! he said, and did, as venom flowed through my veins.

He stopped some fifty yards ahead and knelt beside a log. A violet butterfly fanned itself there. He told me its species name, said it like he was reading it off a flashcard, like I should thank him for it.

Have you ever been poisoned? he asked, breaking off a white mushroom. When air touched it inside, it turned blue, the same shade as his eyes.

We walked back to his shack. He said he was going to build a pyramid to live in, like Wilhelm Reich, who learned it from the ancient pharaohs. It slows down time, so you don't get old so fast.

I looked out the window. Did you know porcupines could climb trees? I asked. He shrugged and started sautéing the mushrooms he'd picked. He sang "Dear Doctor" by the Stones, off-key. His hair in a braid was longer than mine.

He served the mushrooms with wild chives and nasturtiums on tin plates. You'd think I'd have known better, but I ate a whole plateful. Then he pulled up a chair and stared into my face. I thought he was going to kiss me. But no, he was using my eyes as mirrors. I could tell by the way he was smiling.

We should have chamomile tea, he said, but didn't make any.