Monday, September 26, 2011

Sounds of the Earth

The day was half done; the golden orb in the sky mocked him, tempting you to rest, for slumber’s deep calling. Sweat dribbled down his face falling into the cracks in the mud, disappearing into the fine black veins that covered the ground, like a capillary system carry nought but emptiness itself. A giant organ was this breathing earth, venous and pumping, if only people could listen to it like he did. He felt it pulsate, even under the glare of the sun, when his mind thought of nothing but the distance between him and home he did not know, he couldn’t resist stopping and listening. Deeper and louder it got, with the passing of the afternoon as he sat there with a stick in his hand drawing figures in the parched brown. It was sighing, what at first seemed like rasping agony was actually just thirst. He nodded. He understood thirst, it was not just the debilitating need for water, it was nutrition, it was hope, and it was life. One could achieve so much, if they only had water. Little seeds sucking on the drops of milk moist earth mothered into them, asking them to grow, whispering words of calm motivation, saying, Drink! And you shall be. To repopulate this barren wasteland, to decorate these once beautiful green blossoms that now were wretched crooked women, hunched in the sunlight, their witch-like fingers grabbing at weary souls that sat underneath them. He understood this too, and he tapped the earth three times willing for something to grow. The cloth wrapped around his head undid itself and fell to his shoulders. He looked much smaller than he was already without it. His frail frame, naked in the heat save for a loin cloth and his head cloth. He was the son of the soil; his skin was a piece of it, like dark cocoa baked in the sun. His eyes were small but accommodated the entire landscape, taking in every little detail, every contour or lack of it.

He unstrung a small satchel of water tied around his waist and sipped from it. There was little water remaining, he sprinkled a few drops on the cloth and tied it back on his head. This water would have to last until the next day, until he could find somewhere to refill it. He noticed a thin dried root protruding from the husk of the earth, like an umbilical cord between a long gone mother and its dead offspring. He touched it and it shivered, dispelling dust into the burning air around it. He stared at the root for some time, smiled and then poured the remainder of his water into the soil below it. The soil drained the water and in seconds it was as if there had never been any water there to begin with. His smile disappeared as he realized that his brother was dead for there was no hope. The dull ache in the back of skull became stronger, as something in his guts plunged. He began to breathe heavily, but continued to listen to sounds of the earth. Now they mimicked his breathing, raspy, dry and forced. He only listened through the deafening silence of the land, his own breath and the song of the earth. The deeper each breath was, the louder the earth responded. He forced his lungs to pump their hardest and his skeletal frame trembled as he heaved his chest trying to get the earth to reciprocate, to coax it into a duet. The answer came, this time with a drumming, a thumping beat in synchrony with his own aching. His eyelids drooped over his dry eyes and his head began to spin for the lack of oxygen in his brain. But his soul was alive, wailing with the earth, crying for every loss it had ever begotten. His body began to sway to this sound, this only sound he now heard. His mind called it deliverance; his soul called it the earth, the earth called it life and they all cried for it. In unison, his body, mind and earth all shook, daring somebody to stop them. They vibrated in the still air, until they all fell silent, for his body gave way first, and he collapsed to the ground. A cloud of dust rose with the impact of the body and settled back down upon his corpse. His eyes lay open, glinting in the sunlight, face packed with dirt. His mouth lay open, red on the inside, his lips a black miniature of the landscape. The earth rumbled a last time, and fell silent.

 Only the quiet remained for a while roasting in the sun, until the evening came and skies dimmed. Clouds began to gather, and it began to rain. A grey pallor tinted everything and his body seemed like a ghost, grey under the thundering sky. Water washed over him, down his face, clearing it of dirt, down to the ground where his body touched the earth, where a single, green leaf protruded from the soil.

[Please excuse any grammatical errors or lack of talent thereof]