The Legacy of the Fallen

In the city there is death. Motors roar to life, chopping down stocks, leaving us broken and bleeding. Slashed limbs stick up amidst the massacre, green chutes fighting the blades. Again and again the machines come, buzzing faster, spinning harder, cutting deeper. Again and again we fall, cut short, left to bleed on the broken blanket of green beneath. The motors die with the sun, and we are left to weep under the stars. Tears rise from our shattered forms, the dew of our sorrow sticking against dead grass and shattered limbs. Sometimes a single golden head pokes up, defying the roaring machines. The motors do not torture one, leaving it to flower, to seed, to spread. The wind carries more heads about. We take root in the grass, just to be cut down again. There is no escaping death.

The city pulls at us, chops us up, leaves us finished and broken. Iron cages are clasped around our stocks, squishing leafs and crushing flowered heads. An odd seed might escape between the bars, as we are ripped from lush soil beneath our feet, roots and all. Breath slowly disappears, life leaving us in the dark. The cage is thrown off, and we are cast aside, piled in heaps, raked away to decompose in a mound of putrid waste. Those cages rip life from us. No bleeding limbs remain. Nothing remains, nothing but death, no legacy for the fallen. We battle that inescapable monster by day and fight from nightly terrors.

We tuck our pedals tight, press the golden florets against each other, squeezing eyes shut as darkness falls. We tuck tight against the cold, squeeze, shiver, try to block out the terrors that will come. Death taunts us on the wind, and we suck in against the onslaught. Death hangs down from the stars, gleaming in the blackened waste above, and we pull close to block out the memories, block out the vision of what is to come.
Morning rises, dew-filled tears fall, and death comes again, those terrors of night being realized. Today there are no motors, blades, or metal cages. No tools fill hands of men and women, no slicing bars or chopping mowers. A soft mist rests on our pedals, caresses our shafts, running down to leafs and roots beneath. We bask in the glorious showers of death, soaking in the moisture, before realizing the deceit. The poison spills on us, soaks into our skin, shrivels up our pedals, turns our leafs crusty and brown. We can no longer breathe, suffocated by the death in those clothes of life, the watering-can in grim-reapers tattered clothing. His scythe slices into our hearts, spilling blood from the deepest parts of our growth. Death holds nothing back in this city that kills. Nothing is left but a field of waste: the legacy of the fallen.

My brothers, sisters, friends in the city are lost. Death fills them with dread by night, torturing their minds before the sun promises its physical mirror. It shows them death inside the glass, then dashes them to pieces by motor, blade, cages, poison. I feel their pain, but know not the experience, my life filled with freedom. Where urban meets rural there is some talk of death, light gossip’s on the wind, but those blackened hands, metal cages, motors, poison, none reach me in the field. Death keeps his distance, and I care not for his deceit. More heads of yellow poke up around me than I could dare imagine possible in the city. Row upon row, we stand, soaking up the sun, soaking up the rain, basking in rural freedoms.

I tuck my pedals tight when the stars come out, but it is not out of fear. I seek not to block out the tortures of death on my mind, blocking out the nightmares as my brothers in the city do. Out here, I relish the day, and savour its taste at night. I hold tight those pleasant memories, before unfolding again, the sun creeping up on horizon beyond. Tears of joy touch my yellowed fingers as they open, receiving the surrounding dew, that shower of spring’s delight.

Day after day I bathe in freedom, bask in the beauty if my rural existence. The field of flowers, that is my home, works in waves around me, closing and opening with the sun. No fear. No care. Nothing but freedom and the remembrance of peace. I sleep with promises of another day’s glories on the tips of every floret, moist with life’s emotions, messages of freedom on the tips of those tiny tongues, eyes wet with the impending joy as they close, expectantly desiring the beauty of tomorrow.

But tomorrow never comes.

The night is harsh, but I am unafraid until morning comes. I do not rise. I can feel the sun’s heat as it rises in the expanse of blue above, fading from darkened blues, through greys, to reds of sunrise, to cobalt. I see the clouds billowing with life above, life’s light poking through empty spaces to shine down on me… but they are only in my memory. I know the sky to be blue, but see only red. It is not the red of rising or setting sun, but the red of that unknown, gossiped about visitor. The whole field shivers with his presence, overcome with blood-red waves in mind’s eye. Death.

No blades, cages, poison: death holds no foul tools. He works hard in the city, daily crushing us with the varieties of tortures available to his blackened heart, deceiving us by day, and taunting by night. I am so far removed from such pains, sorrows, lies, that I missed the greatest deception. Death slowly trickled up my stalks, forced my eyes shut, the life surrounding me sealing my fate, gluing my florets together in an unshakable grasp.

I strain against the power of death, fight the poison continually working its way up the shaft into my head, clouding mind, skewing vision, blocking all hope, joy, freedom. The red sun continually beats down, torturing me with its presence. I feel the burn from above, but cannot see beyond my sealed lids. I feel the poison rising in my throat, but cannot open my mouth to retch. The vomitous pool within cooks under the sun. My pedals begin to shrivel, die, burned away by the acrid life turned death within.

Night comes again. I do not see the setting sun, or stars smiling down on me. The air around me chills, growing wet with tomorrow’s pregnant dew. The red burn in my eyes fades to a blackened darkness, shot through with ghosts of that beast on high. Memories of the pain flash past my eyes, spectre visions to torture my mind. I wish to close my eyes, shake off the death that has taken hold of me, forget the pain of yesterday – the pain now dormant, raw, and throbbing in my head. Death is not a blanket to be removed, or a monstrous machine left to rust, but it is in me. Inescapable.

I now know the pain of my brothers in the city, the torture my sisters endure, the screaming of my friends as limbs are cut away, roots are ripped up, bodies left to shrivel in a steaming, poisoned mass. I know the pain. It is in me. It is me. I give up, falling into the apathy that has become my life. Depression overtakes my mind: the will to die. I wish for bars to cage me in, grasp at my roots, pluck the remaining life from me, but the Reaper is not so friendly. He plays a sad tune in my heart, scraping it away one scythe-shaped shaving at a time.

The day, the night, it is all the same. One is filled with blood-red fire, the other torturous visions of what is to come, visions of tomorrow, memories of yesterday. All is death, but he does not come in full. Soon I forget the pain, day and night becoming as one, one lonely existence, one dead heart in an almost lifeless body. My florets seemingly fall away as that body decays, moulting within the impenetrable shell of my head. I want to dash my skull against a stone, let the blood run from that self-inflicted hole, keep the black emptiness of death, no more red days to taunt me.

No more red days come. The nights remain black and lifeless, but the days return to their former blue that I once knew. My head finally cracks, pedals spilling outward to receive the life of the morning. Dew sticks to my florets, but I can barely feel it. These are not the tears of joy that I once knew, but those of pain, sorrow, emptiness, death. This field that once was a beautiful patch of gold has fallen into decay. We stand tall, but not free as before. Row upon row of white fluff, we stand, the bright yellows of life sucked away by death.

He hangs over me, mixing with the wind, tugging at the shreds of decency I have left. One at a time, my florets-turned-spores are ripped from my skin, torn from my scalp like lifeless hairs from a lifeless head, my legacy ripped from dying stalk. The hair turned white with age, and now begins to fall out, but not with the grace of a slowly receding hairline. The process is sharp and jarring… but I hardly feel the pain.

Again and again the wind blows, death grasping at the wispy strands in which I once took pride. My golden tresses fall away, floating by one at a time as death comes like a thief. By night, by day, he cares not for my sorrow, continually plucking out those floret spores, leaving me to die naked and raw. That final strand of life hangs on, but I care for it no more. The rest of me is gone. My legacy is dead. Why care for a single piece of life when death holds prevalence? I let the wind pick it off, speaking no blessing as it disappears into the night air.

My head sinks low as the rain starts to fall. Those mounds of life in the sky have turned purple in wicked death. They lash out at the dead field below with the fury of a forgotten god. Drops of water push hard against my naked skull, crush my back in the downpour. When that final cry of the storm gives way, rumbling the earth beneath, shaking my dead roots from their life-long home, lighting the field with fire, I have nothing left to care for. The red fire rushes for my naked, broken, dying carcass, and I give in to its will. The burn of death is my only comfort, my only hope, joy, freedom, my only legacy. The red rages in my mind, fading into the blackness of lifelessness that I can finally call my own: my new home.

In the city there is death. Motors, cages, poison have all finished their job. The city is bloodied and broken. We are bloodied and broken. No hope, no freedom, no legacy, nothing but death all around. Wind whips through the shortened grass, tired stalks, broken limbs. Tufts of white stick to those tears of sorrow, the rising dew of the morning. The city of death is transformed into a field of white: field of new life. We burrow into the earth, hide from death, hide from the blades, cages, poison. They continue to assault our brothers, sisters, friends above, but death cannot touch us. We wait in patient expectation, germinating beneath the ground.

With a final burst of life, we shoot from beneath the well turned earth, death’s fertilization feeding our growing limbs. We suck in the flavour of a lost past, stretch out limbs to the sky, spread forth new tresses of golden life. The city is a glorious scene of beauty, golden tipped stalks rising above the death below.

I open to see the sky above, feel the wet dew of joy touching each eyelash, each floret, as I greet the morning. In the distant expanses of memory I hear shrieks of death, feel the wind carrying me, see blood-red, but none of it seems real. I stand tall and proud in the city, defying death in the new field of gold surrounding me. I know someday that I will close my eyes, never to open them again. I feel the death in my distant past, but see its results around me. Row upon row of golden heads poke up from the dead spores we once were, the remains of a dying body. Death is inescapable, but life is much the same. One death gives birth to many lives: the legacy of the fallen.

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