trance formations: on the path

You and I are taking a familiar walk, through a wooded park adjacent to a dead-end street that backs onto it, the very street where you lived as a child, in fact. As we come down the gravel path that winds among the tall trees, rounding a turn, we see a man in the distance, accompanied by two small children. His build, hair, walk, are all instantly recognizable, even though he’s some distance from us. “He looks just like your father,” I remark. It’s an odd thing. And the two tow-headed children, the girl slightly younger, smaller than the boy, could be you and your sister. “He’s turning in at our old house,” you reply. “See that back gate? That’s how he used to take us to the park.” We keep walking towards them, but something in us seems not to want to move more quickly. The man does not look up, and disappears behind the wooden gate that is just his height, shepherding the little girl before him. But the boy looks back down the path our way, briefly, as he passes through. His gaze is too distant to be distinct. What did he see? As we come up to the shut gate, only a gap of aged wood in an ivy-covered wall, you look down at the ground. There’s a little metal figurine in the dirt, a rusty soldier. “Is it yours?” I ask, remembering the old toys we found in the attic years ago when we were cleaning the house after your father’s funeral.