This night in cold moonlight earth rises up clouds float down ghosts walk the margin. Old ones sing now shall be then older ones still sing then shall be once to wolf and coyote. In this season of north winds sun’s heat barren spirits rise up dreams descend man lies interspersed. Women sing we are bearers men sing we are sowers.
Open to page 147 of your hymnals. There is nothing to sing there for the words of promise once found there have withered and faded, carried off on now toxic winds, so hold your breath or whatever heaven you imagine will be too soon be approaching at a speed exceeding imagination.
You don’t remember how you got here, things happened around you when you weren’t paying attention but, you say, what can you do about it, it’s not your problem so you are happy to let someone else deal with it, you are sure it will be dealt with if you stay out of the way, do nothing.
So while you are blindly waiting perhaps you can join the others just like you, in your final prayers.
They took up shovels, pickaxes, bare fingers to pry up the seedlings, the saplings just taking root and the seeds just planted still watered by the sweat and tears of those who lovingly tilled the brittle soil.
They offered nothing in return, barren ground where only anger grew, fertilized by fear, by by greed, by blindness.
Will we sit by and watch as promises wither under an ever stronger, more glaring sun, as hopes are blown away by arid winds, or will we again return to the soil, start over, our faith now perennial.
The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
Here, in these unmown fields where the morning mists gather once stood the ancient chieftain his clan assembled about him staring into the distant trees under the watchful eye of the gods. As the October winds blew down from the hills, they strode forward blades glinting in the midday sun ebbing and flowing until the moon stood poised for its nightly trek and they stood on the precipice of exhaustion counting fall brethren sacrificed to the blade of the claymore for glory of clan and entertainment of gods.
On these tired fields no chieftains stride and the mists no longer wrap the boulders left to mark nameless graves of kin. These are now ill sown fields, lying in the wasteland between chiefs who sit in silent bunkers, clansmen gathered to retell the tales of glory long vanished, to come. In these fields they till the begrudging soil and beg the gods for meager growth. As the moon begins its slow journey skyward they pause to count the craters torn into the rocky soil, and gather the bones of those newly fallen, sacrificed to the wrath of the claymores, the entertainment of the gods.
First Appeared in Main Street Rag, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2000.
Catherine Camden is quite dead, so secure in her peace that her parting has faded and all that remains is her name, and that too, will soon be gone as she was, slowly devoured by the winds. The white swans on the Thames pay her no notice.