Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When The Gods Stop Burning

The wind whipped the few remaining leaves as they strained on their buds and branches. The sky was as dark as a cloudly midsummer's twilight, but you knew those weren't clouds. The smell of ash stung in your mouth and nose.

Above you, that tree, which once held the body of a man, was still stained with his blood, showing deep and black in the darkness. The field before you was long since plowed and replanted and replowed, the furrows long and deep and leeched of nutrients. Across that long field that once waved brilliant golden strands sat a smoking ruin.

As you approach, the ash will sting your eyes and stain your clothes. You will stand there, watching the world smoulder.

There's clearly nothing left for you here, as the landscape blends into the grey sky, but something keeps pulling you back. Turn slowly in a circle, and remember the life this place held in your last visit, now long past. We know your curiosity would get the better of you, and while your hands are jammed into your pockets and absently playing with their meager contents, you don't pull out the silver Liberty dollar. When you remove your hands, instead its familiar weigh still presses against you thigh through the thin cloth.

You push what remains of the door aside as you step into the farmhouse. The walls are all but gone and the visible foundation stones are burned as black as the stain on the tree. The stalls are gone, marked only by the metal braces that held the gates, now fallen to the packed-earth floor.

Counting your paces more carefully than the stalls, you return to where you think the women sat. In truth, you'e one stall short, but that doesn't matter. There's nothing there: no walls, no women, no water.

You can run from these ruins but they'll still haunt you; the stains will never come off your clothes, off your skin, and the smell of ash will always bring all these images, unbidden, back to your mind.