Friday, April 25, 2008

Only War

The cathedral stands tall in the day’s gloom, its soft interior dusted with age. The warrior trudges forth. The old campaigner is tired and his shoulders are slumped. His sword is dull and his armor battered. Sitting in a pew the dust rises up to greet him. Eyes like flecks of granite, filled with sorrow, raise with pleading to the heavens, they have seen too much. The warhorse is old and beaten. This clanking engine of warfare has seen his last skirmish, a worn husk now, no closer to his goal than when he first took up the sword. The world has moved on and he sits immovable in contemplation. He sits, the last off the field, the last of the fallen as the silent ballad fills his mind. Was his cause just? Did he do the right thing? These things no longer matter as the ballad continues on, leaving him behind to sit, dusty, rusting amid his tarnished days of glory. His life is coming to an end, yet he cannot think of one worthwhile achievement. No loved ones to speak of, his battle brothers are no longer beside him to fight the good fight. What was once a boy is now a giant of blood and iron. A commander of vast armies, defender of the weak, liberator of the oppressed, avenger of the wronged. Yet he is no closer to understanding his life, even so near its end. He sits in contemplation, his memory a haze of battle, bloodshed, and stalwart resistance. His foes faces are blurred; there is no one he has not fought at one time or another. For all those he saved in his life, all the bravery, courage, and valor that has come to be synonymous with his name, he is left a shattered husk. Beaten and worn to the nub by the rigours of life. In the silence he can still hear the moaning of the wounded on the field meshed with the cheers of the victors. His entire life he’s devoted to being strong and doing the right thing, no matter the consequence. But what has it left him with? Nothing. He is no more intelligent than when he was a child. He understands nothing more of the world or his place in it. Even as his heart flutters its last he knows there is still much work to do, as there always will be. The world is a giant meatgrinder, glutted upon the minds, souls, and bodies of untold billions. Still it hungers for more, for its thirst for blood shall never be quenched, nor its hunger sated. Slumping in death and defeat, his voice, which had rang out loud and clear over the insufferable din of battle was reduced to a shaking whisper, “There is no silence, no calm, no respite. There is only war”.

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