The Go Round of History

         Like battle weary men dragging their souls through history as far back as the written word can transcribe the experience of their victories and defeats, we struggled against what we saw. The fight had not slowed as bodies mounded to block our access to each other. Why we continued to shoot, I couldn’t say, except that we knew nothing else. Or, perhaps, we were driven by the numbness, battle fatigue, and the shock that drives emotion into a pinpoint of existence too remote to ever be focused on in time to stem the flow of physical expression. There’s a place deep within each of us that blossoms to overpower sanity. That was what I witnessed the raw edge of the sane as they stepped into an inferno where normalcy shriveled under the heat of instinctual survival.

         Yet even while thinking such abstractions, I raised my weapon, pressed hard on the trigger and held it against the back of its guard until the clip ran dry. Then I scavenged a fresh clip off the remains of a dead comrade, wiped his blood from it, slammed it in place, chambered a round and fired again. I became an automaton, a man without reason, driven to live through the day at any cost to others.

         When the sun settled into the piles of corpses, gunfire slowed, but did not stop completely. The air smelled of those things known only to the men and women who have experienced warfare firsthand. You breathe each breath as a last, hoping to live to see another sunrise, hoping to find an end where peace is less of an illusion. Then you awaken and start again.

Copyright 2019 Gabriel FW Koch all rights reserved

The Simple Request of Why

Strong wind carried scents of Queen Anne’s Lace layered over freshly cut Rosemary. I was then a boy in search, but not aware if I would discover something worthy. I just knew the search was my quest. 
 Each day I asked myself why, but could not always put words behind the query so why hung as a suspended moment that enticed the need to search further. 

Wandering through forests not yet tamed by metal dozers of economic promise, a falling leaf, a rustled branch, or sparkling water in a small pond I felt certain lay as an undiscovered find. Yet why remained elusive, like a shadow seen at noon not at midnight. I knew it would reappear at sunrise. 

 Silent examination, patience’s companion, rode my shoulder when I left nature’s protection as if it knew I needed advise, or guidance when passing along trails trod by many people before me. 
 There was deep meaninglessness to their civilized hast, a confusion of chatter fired out like static lines of invisible whys. I was not sure they cared for their answers, but rather sought a definition for escape. The people around me seemed to cling to the refuge their questions wove around them like a garden spider’s five-foot web. 
 The search walked me through childhood, carried me into manhood until confronted with an answer I did not anticipate. 
 In war, I expended ammunition at an often-unseen enemy while we both responded to the call of life. Why never left me, yet again never resolved, but the silence after conclusion rang with repercussions. The why of war bridges reality and passes into severed spirit. The unseen blood left dripping is like the breeze bearing gifts of Queen Anne’s Lace, and freshly cut Rosemary, impossible to recapture and hold on the palm of peace, but balances perfectly on a blade of thorn. 
Copyright Gabriel F.W. Koch 2019 All Rights Reserved.