Monday, March 11, 2013
In the east the men fight, not just each other but the bugs and the cold that reaches in under their worn-out ratty wool blankets.
Each one stinks and is darkened with grease and drops of blackened blood. All blankets are futile attempts to stop cold or bleeding. The rations are paltry; the young men, babyfaced and pale, hold the balled up blankets to their cavernous stomachs to blot out the noises of hunger, they press them tighter to drown out the needling pain. Older recruits warned of the hunger. It would crawl inside and start to eat and gnaw from the inside, hollowing out fingers and toes first, it would soon find the plentiful reserves of thick, purple organs.
Just outside the camps made of canvas and dirt are the muskets and hastily made trenches, the mis-read maps that will lead to so many fallen lives on coming autumn days.
Out there in the fields and meadows and under the old trees they lay. Sometimes thousands in a week, sometimes hundreds in an hour. Too many to carry home, too many to bury in the soil and say a little prayer. They will have to be found by god, buried in snow and picked at by the animals of shadows. They will end up in the woods and meadows, spread out bit by bit by tiny squirrels and swallows.
Those gunshots are not even a faint ding on the horizon out in the yellow land of the west. This is the wasteland and the battle hymns and marches fall, losing their way between sand and stone.
In the desert and the old dusty towns there are other games to play. Gray and blue are just some of the colors, none are the desert dwellers' concern. The wasteland is full of games, big and small and meaningless, depending on the player. Each rider and beast moves towards gold or glory or woman or the rare gem of purpose at the bottom of a deep flowing river, the great golden treasure that calls from the heart of an ever receding sea.