By Taryn Ziegler
Did you know? The trees weep here. Not often and none too loud but weep they do. Sometimes they cry with soft childish voices. Sometimes with the wails of women. And sometimes, when the clouds assume the most ominous tone, the trees groan with the sorrow of men. Have you heard them?
It’s a glade, green life encircling, but there’s a podium raised. The people file in. Rain patters gently, spiraling down, reflecting vague faces of pain. A grandfather clock beats a tempo for the marchers to march (it’s a shuffle, really). The rain kisses the muddying feet but falls, falls, falls heedlessly to the tick, tick, beat. Eyes to the ground, brothers. And in waves of color they come.
The podium occupied by a fist. Ignoring the tick, ignoring the kiss. A fist a respectable distance from the dirtied feet, and yet somehow pounding each square- that square, the square of the chest exposed best. Pounding a cleft in the shield of the chest it roars and shields crumble.
And then the list is unfurled.
Is your face on it?
You’re shuffling too.
The feet slide backwards, now, assisted from behind, waves of color disappearing past the stony veil. What’s it veiling. What’s that wailing. The gavel falls and echoes in the glade. And the trees mourn and sway. Now hear a voice behind the gavel, the veil, the podium, say:
“Let no (insert here) escape. (insert here) will fall. (insert here) will burn. (insert here) will swing by the neck, tied, strung, fastened, set by a rope by hate fashioned. Let (insert here) suffer and learn. Let the drums hammer the war song we’ve sung time and again, time and again, to rid ourselves of the verminous scum. We do it with rats, we do it with fleas, we do it with disease, to our enemies. Exterminate. Eradicate. Annihilate!”
Thunderous applause from blurred figures to the right, to the left, lining the path of the steady tick, tick beat, the muddy slide-scrape of the feet.
And they’re gone.
Past the stony veil they’ve marched, shuffled, slid. Gone, gone through the rain and its kiss and the clock and its tick. Gone among clapping and snapping, gnashing of teeth. Sometimes Hell is here. Waves of color washed clean (they say). The glade falls still. The voice fades. The rain is staid. The clock stays.
And the trees weep quietly.
But the podium remains.
And new souls file in. Rain patters gently, spiraling down, reflecting vague new faces of pain. The grandfather clock beats the tempo for the marchers to march (it’s a shuffle, really). The rain kisses the new muddying feet but falls, falls, falls heedlessly to the same tick, tick, beat. Eyes to the ground, brothers. And in new waves of color they come.
For the list unfurled stays with the podium. They are one, and they are the same. And the secret is, I’ll tell you. Do you know? Have you seen? Have you heard the weeping? Have you shuffled, too? Is your face on it? I can tell you these things. Brothers, I can tell you these things. For all feet are one. The list has all (y)our faces.
Grandfather checks his clock, but he knows what Time it is. The rain slips gently from his face down, down, down. He knows what time it is, and so, though eyes forward, he weeps too.