Another day, and my small town sings into a gray morning.
The clouds hang low, walking slowly eastward on bound feet;
their feathered skins and souls are wrapped in old newspapers,
damp straw, cotton from the fields to westward; they are bound
with rubber bands and orange twine, now gray and rotten.
No drum rolls herald the approach of war. War came like sudden
summer thunder, jumping full blown out of nothing. No preliminaries,
no undercurrents, no premonitions, just sudden bangs to startle
sleeping dogs and children to frightened wakefulness and howling.
I jumped up, too. I caught my bearings, calmed the dogs, calmed
the children, sent them back to dreaming. Concussions shook the house
and lightening flashed and filled the windows. The air around the building
shook with sudden apparitions as angels spilled from books older than the bible.
Leather pages drifted down.
So many wings beating around the house. Flocks of bright wings swirl
with wings of demons and all are howling. Where was the calm
proceeding the storm? The end of time had raced to catch its breath here,
only to be overwhelmed and beaten down. There was nothing I could do
but watch. I tuck the children in again, calm them down, speak to the dogs,
hold their eyes, scratch their chins, and send them also back to sleeping.
The noise awakens Judith, she who sleeps through anything.
“Go back to sleep,” I say, “It’s nothing.”
She trusts me, she covers her white breasts again, rolls over on her side.
The crackling lightening flashes from the storm light the still landscape of her
shoulder, her hip, her thigh. I see (and love) the curved white meadows
in between, where we play our highland games. They are moonlit highland
home to generations.
How many? I have lost count. I see stars shine through
her body now. The milky way curls twice and then dissolves.
I have traded in my guns and knives for paint and brushes.
I love the fight. Beyond all other passions, I love the fight.
The truth is simple: I love the killing. There is no joy quite like
the joy of knowing death’s sure end awaits the one,
or the other, and races quickly towards the harvest with
open hands for gathering.
But who wins, really? Joy may be found in killing, but life?
And then the joy goes dim.
Lifetime after lifetime we reach first for mother’s milk, and second,
for the nearest weapon. And do it again and again,
until we grow sick of blood and tired from killing
and lay our weapons down and walk away from them.
Do others follow? Do we call out to them,
“Lay your weapons down and cease from killing!”
No. It does no good it does no harm it does nothing.
We do not applaud we do not ignore them.
Instinctively we protect our own. While I breathe
no harm will come to Judith, or the children, or the dogs,
or the friends; but only because I can defend them without force
or threat of arms. I will their defense, they suffer my protection.
The instinct is built in. Perhaps a later life will find me
releasing will, as well as weapons.
Time has concluded her return. Now it begins again.
Angels and demons swirl around some other house.
They flatten cities, they flatten townships. Their spittle
and their frenzy, their deployed legions are herds of pigs
I run from cliffs. I do not need or want them. The low clouds
of the morning, gray and close above this small town, are
prisoners of war, bootless, chained; prisoners of desire, rage,
and longing. They trudge east into darkness beneath a brilliant
orange rising sun.
Wake up, children. Rise and shine.
The day awaits. Morning is breaking.