All I can tell you is words come slow like rain in the middle of what would become known simply as the drought—a little understatement we could hang on to while hot winds scoured the landscape. Winter ended swiftly. In one day the ice melted and the hot wind arose from out of the west. The hills grew ragged and dusty.

The wind shifted north, killing off livestock. Eventually we were blasted by hot currents from every direction. It never rained again, the wind never died, everything crumbled. I don’t remember that last day other than as a dream: delicate flesh stinging from the cold; brittle ice cutting into cheeks; a red nose peeks out from under a scarf.

I awoke to the itching and flaking of burnt flesh, in time to catch a tree slowly falling, its topmost branches snap loose, crash into the rugged earth, and crumble before the trunk catches up. In the beginning the downed wood would have been swarmed by carpenter ants and termites—but there are none left, they couldn’t survive the undying furnace, ever stoked by growing windstorms.

Every step was thought to be the last. Every step digging a little deeper into the loose ground. After the trees abated their war against gravity, their dry roots gave way and forests fell. Collapsing like the rest of life, simply giving up and letting go and laying down en masse.

The terrible wind blows and trees die. It howls and you know there is one less thing to care about. The sun glares and you bleed dry, and you walk—trying to stand on loose ground. Trying to walk over ground that crumbles into the hallows left by decayed roots. There was a time, I remind myself, that the ground was solid. When the earth was supported by a series of roots, invisible but for the structures they supported. There was a strong and resilient earth, covered with life drawing strength from an invisible web of roots. Roots surrounded by damp ground. Roots I once cursed for hampering my digging. Roots that meandered their way into my compost heap, seemingly demanding to be dug out—extinguished.

Roots that would have died by now anyway. Roots that were the last to see it coming. Roots that didn’t know that the world above was withering into dust, and sand, and neglect. Suddenly alone in empty dry ground. Suddenly vanishing, ripping open holes in their death.

Welcome home. Welcome to a world where a thousand non-decisions have been cast by outsiders, a thousand words of advice from unaware and unmindful idols flinging unthoughtful opinions at their trusting admirers. Leading, eventually, to dry winds scouring a hallow earth.

I should probably get rid of the following self-serving whinefest, but I can’t bring myself to. Not now.”

An earth that continues to spin in spite of itself. An earth too preoccupied with damage to halt. An earth incapable of supporting life, spinning out of control by its own inertia and fear of remembering a time before. A rootless earth scoured of life refusing to remember the monumental time which, if remembered, would rock it out of its orbit into inevitable harrowing suffering.

The summer came and abraded the surface and secretly undercut its own foundation. The summer came and never ended. Never let up, never gave heed. Summer came and burnt and burnt and burnt until all there was left to burn was a terrible dry hulk of pity. A clod spinning so quickly that it crumbled under its own inertia. A doubtful sandy clod of what remains of a once promising paradise.

A hallow clod of shock that is afraid to resurrect. Afraid to try again, for in the trying is the admitting that nothing could ever compare to what it once was. Even if the rains came back now…no, only if, only if the rains would return now. Would return willingly and with the same ferocity with which they had left could ever bring an end to this interminable evaporation.

2 thoughts on “Drought”

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