As It Seems, In Dreams

The gentle breezes danced on my face,
as I awoke in the sunlit field.
The green soft grass bending and
swaying as the wind pleased.
I looked up at the sun and
laughed as my heart took flight.
As I walked further into the meadow,
the birds began to sing a soft, sweet, simple song to me.
This soothed my ears and gave a slight spring to my step.
Before long I happened upon a clearing beside a river.

The water clear and clean.
Each drink trickled sweetly down my throat.
It was only upon looking up that I saw the man.
Wizened beyond human years,
bent and dressed in earthy colored robes.
As I studied him I was reminded of an ancient willow;
gnarled and weathered. His beard white and grey and long
also blew in the breeze.

Ordinarily I would have been quite alarmed however
one look into his deep set eyes and I saw that they were kind 
and warm and gave me a deep sense of peace.
He beckoned me to follow him along the river,
and I felt strangely compelled to do so.
After a slight trip he stopped abruptly.
And looking around I began to drink in once again 
the beauty of this magical place.
The vivid reds and whites of the sweet smelling flowers,
and the lush greens of the serene oaks and maples
dotting the hillside along the river bank.

The old man pointed his aged wrinkled finger toward the 
opposite bank wherein my eyes lit upon a young girl adorned in white.
The blond locks of her shining golden hair spilling down her bare shoulders.
Her dress the purest shade of white my eyes had ever beheld.
She sat contently in the grass picking dandelions and blowing them
into the wind. Smiling as the seeds began their journey towards their
inevitable planting ground. She then laughed a youthful
but surprisingly rich laugh standing up and dancing along the shoreline.

At times dipping her toes into the water and then running up the bank
gracefully. Spinning, twirling.
Her dress seemed to shimmer as she weaved back and forth
consumed with the regal dance of youth.
It brought a smile to my face as I observed her carefree dance
and her lighthearted laughter...

But as suddenly as she had begun she stopped.
I felt a chill creep up my spine, as from a cluster of trees
as shadowy figure emerged.
It did not look 'round but silently moved towards the girl
as intently as a wolf stalks its prey.
There she remained rooted to her spot, much like a mouse
as it gazes into a hungry snake's eyes.

I wanted to call out to the girl,
to warn her of the danger that I could plainly see.
But my mouth worked silently
my throat drying as if a hand were choking my words down.
The dark figure reached the girl and I saw a pale ghostly hand 
extend from within the folds of the black robe.
Not a pure white as her robes that almost shone,
but a deathly white that screamed of plague and death.
As the hand touched her she let out a scream of anguish
and pain as she fell to her knees.

I stepped forward in an attempt to assist but the old man's hand
held me back with surprising strength.
The screams became louder and evermore piercing;
the screams of a soul in agony.
To my horror I beheld the girl's beauty leaving her,
her skin becoming rough, coarse and cracked, her hair
graying and her her dress darkening to a shade of midnight's 
deepest black.
She writhed on the ground as if afflicted by some terrible disease;
then before my very eyes she completely dissolved into ash and
blew into the wind. Leaving only a barren spot on the ground
where she had once laid...

Through my tears I saw the dark figure turn towards the old man and I.
I felt his eyes piercing me from under the dark hood,
and his mocking laughter echoed in my very soul.
And in that instant he vanished.
I fell to my knees as the tears flowed uncontrollably.
I felt the old man's gaze upon me and the only word I could 
choke out was...

Why?

He looked back at me and I could see his eyes glistening with tears as well,
filled with sadness and compassion,
and he said simply to me;

"That which is pure in this world is fleeting."