AN ESSAY ON THE END
Desolate. Deserted and barren, devoid of all life. I stand alone in the middle of the city street and realize that there will be no sound other than the chill wind swirling around my coat. No children laughing, no patrons shopping—only the wind. Even the few trees I see that line the street are so denuded that they refuse to utter a rustle, a sound my ears ache to hear. The ground, cracked and pitted, lays before me as testament to the tragedy that has happened here. Where once there was a shopkeeper busily sweeping the doorway to his employment, now his sweep stands mute, leaning tiredly against cold, faded brick.
My eyes, abraded by the wind, betray me and I think I see a small animal, perhaps a stray dog, sniffing the front door to the old bakery, but it is illusion, a mirage—only a bundle of old rags that someone cast off when they fled this place. When everyone fled this place. Abandoned cars litter the street like pawns on a chessboard.
As my ears ache for familiar sounds, so too does my face mourn the death of the sun, it’s fiery brilliance covered by unending clouds. I can recall that as a boy I would stare for hours and hours at the sisters to those clouds and the faces and the shapes I saw there would populate an entire town if the wind, the bitter wind, would only allow them to tarry and descend upon the stone below. There are no faces now, only flat humorless expressions blowing ever, ever westward.
My heart rejoices when I hear a sound, a flapping as if two cloth hands were united in applause but it is only the wind, caressing the threadbare flag that hovers over the library at the end of the street. The library! Surely there is life in the building that survivors are urged to go to when there is an emergency
and no other place offers safe refuge?
No. It’s doors are closed and locked, the books inside prisoners guarded by a lonely, rusted bicycle, a lone sentry abandoned by a fleeing youth. A youth with more sense than I.
I fall. I fall to my knees on the cold, remorseless ground. The emptiness seems to mock me as I throw my head back and scream why? Why? Oh God, why hast thou forsaken this town, these people, and visited this apocalypse upon them, leaving only ice, and stone and rust.
And then I hear His answer. The voice is neither feminine nor masculine: neither harsh nor soft: but rather terse, and to-the-point, as if my question is yet another voice crying in the wilderness to an ear that has already heard so much. His answer, born on the wind, that bitter wind that has swept this town and driven away life, is simple:
I’m in Texas.
An essay by Daryl Buckner
Copyright Daryl Buckner 2014 (c)
All Rights Reserved