Below the surface of calm water the next storm is brewing. What it will be, how violent and destructive, no-one knows, nor how far it will reach, nor when it will be unleashed. So we, mere mortals, the next victims, continue to tread, blind and deaf, accepting our fate, carrying our sins, pretending all is well. Has it ever been different, have our ancestors, once, had the knowledge of the future, of what simmers under their lives, hidden from view? Was Nature, once, kinder to us? Did our Creator, once, attempt to warn us? Have we forgotten everything?
Image: Gaia, the Big Mother
Inspired by today’s prompt
Her diary’s open to this date, last year. It could be a leaf from another life, from another time. The woman she was then, perhaps even still the girl, is long gone: so has the world around her. That was before the bomb fell, and now, now that peace has returned, she and many others, the survivors, have to rebuild a home, for the children to come.
The place is hers, she’s on her own ground. She knows what to do, who else is there, who does what. She’s all powerful. But sometimes, we don’t have a choice, submission is the safest bet. Her manners are gentle, evidently, she’s an expert.
So, for a few hours, captivity feels sweet. Later, it may be different, later, when the pain comes. Tethered, unable to move, utterly vulnerable. The thought that this is for my own sake does not alter the fact.
Picture: a recruiting poster for Australian nurses from World War I (source: Wikipedia)
After sundown the city soon wears a cloak of silence: aside from the main avenues, traffic thins out, children rush home, buses and trams, stop by stop, deliver their cargos of precious and tired humanity to their homes. This leaves the freedom of the quiet streets to the flâneurs, to the tramps, and to the night lovers. Except on Friday, when the young revel late, and noisily (bless their voices and their smiles) this temporary truce lasts until the early morning, just before five o’clock, when a new work day starts.
In these few hours of peace, the ghosts roam unheeded the deserted parks, along the canals, and if you are lucky, you may even see some poet, lost in her world, in the semi darkness of a bridge, or lying on a bench, near a lake. It is as if the city was catching up with her inner thoughts, before her children awake from their dreams…
Picture: berlin 2017 © martin u waltz. streetberlin.net, at http://streetphotography.streetberlin.net/image/158029491898
Today’s Prompt, May 2, 2017
As we approach the well known street, the crowd gets denser, perhaps quieter too, as if listening to itself. There are many people here, young and old, in pairs or small groups. The air is crisp and the sky peppered with cotton-like clouds. Will it rain? People chat, laugh, stop at little stalls that sell food and drinks. Some carry flags, or small hand-written panels that proclaim peace, or the end of time.
We walk hand in hand in this familiar city, our home. We stop at a band, listen for a few minutes, walk on. There are speeches, some photographers stand on ladders, for a better view of the human sea. More people are coming. Residents sit at their windows, admiring the show.
At the limits, barring motors to access the streets, stand the city police, calm, reflective, attentive. Girls smile. Little ones in push-chairs look at the sky. You look at me and say: “You see, this is a great holiday, and all is in control!”
Picture: Sunday morning, May 1, 2017, Brandenburger Tor (Honoré Dupuis)
He trains everyday, like a champ. Each exercise is a proof: that he’s survived, will survive. This régime would sink a younger and bigger man. Yet, from dawn to dusk, he forces his body to comply, counts his heartbeats, listens to his breath.
He’s very ill. He will soon die, but simply refuses to surrender and wait. Stubborn, you may say. Yes, that, and also… knackered.
Image: via http://misterdoor.tumblr.com/
Prompt, April 20
“There are no ghosts here,” the old man said, as a matter of fact. “You will find a few old stones, but nothing worth spending much time. They rebuilt the city as they pleased: no reference to its past, its soul, its heroes…”
We took a few more steps through the nondescript city center, we could have been anywhere in a dozen European cities. “But have a look at the river bank,” my companion continued, “I won’t walk with you, but it’s the only place deserving your time…”
The river was twenty minutes away. All along the water luxury mansions faced the tree-lined alley. Gone were the cheap take-aways and the congested streets. Here was real wealth, and good taste. People here did not bother about the fate of other parts of the city: they had bigger fish to fry.
Then I looked at the record of flooding, on the wall of an old tower, standing there, as a warning…
Today’s one-word prompt
He watches the City born again, the ghosts of the past walking, silently, amidst the joyous crowds. The ancient monuments look old and cleansed, no longer ruins martyred by war. Yet he does not follow the script, blindly, but, rather, reflects on the meanings, the hidden messages, the untold truths. Here were divisions, for sure, and the hideous spectrum of tyranny. But here was courage also. And patient work, and the indomitable spirit of a great nation.
Photo: Brandenburger Tor, von Bundestag cupola, 2017 (Honoré Dupuis)
This was her city, she’s lived here all her life, and even before she became the angel she now is, she knew the streets, the people who haunted them, and the sort she could meet, the day people, and the night creatures. She was a little of both, and even now, if you could see her, it might be in the glory of dawn, or in deep darkness, in those hours when the ghosts of the city roam the deserted parks, the tree-lined alleys and the silent museums.
She’s here on her territory, she knows the history, she knows the truths, the myths, the real faces behind the masks. She can read the stories the old houses tell, the dreams of the humans who live there. She can hear distant voices, she recognises them. She can read ancient books, she can read what is engraved on stones, hidden from view, forgotten, in abandoned buildings no-one ever visits.
She’s here for a reason: she’s the angel of Death, and close to her the Devil never comes.
Image: “Angel statue in a destroyed city“
We see the birds gather and fly, first as a small group, then swarming in a dark cloud, defying the glowing sunset. As the coulours change, as the sky turns from blue into purple, then into the deep hue of the coming night, they fly higher, for a short instant, to finally dive, back into the trees. Violet strikes appear in the sky, time seems suspended, the fleeting memories of the day prepare us to the silence that follows, to the peace yet to come.