In the enclosure below, white buses wait for children playing soldiers, intending to defend a country that doesn’t know where it’s going. Behind red brick and jagged wire, Army green shreds of a greedy empire cling, ragged, to their skin. Sergeants scream at lagging lads, as the keen stand to attention, toy guns polished and ready for the killing game, never questioning that they are on the right side. Whatever the cause, they will blunt their bloodied swords and raise the tainted flag of false victory, as the foe breathes his final breath, to find the only peace he will ever know, in death. Yes, they will say they have killed the beast, yet our fear will continue to fester, until we learn to live together.
Along the road, cars drive by, intent on many urgent or indifferent missions, while buses carry harried housewives home with their cache of nutritious food; but I am forgetting – those days have receded into history. The women are working, or fearfully trailing, to the Jobcentre to be sanctioned for something they didn’t understand, wondering how they will buy bread next week, knowing they may have to join what they see as the queue of shame for a free food handout. These days, the buses drag students to and from uncertain lessons in subjects they don’t want to learn, and can’t, because the courses are substandard, except for the fortunate few, who have up-to-date tutors and superior curricula.
Meanwhile, in a city we used to call The Smoke, due to the smog that hung over it, parliament buildings rumble with government people who shoulder the true blame, yet walk without shame. They jumble justice and shuffle the cards; each card bearing the name of an unwilling servant whose choice has been stolen by corrupt officers with too many ticks in too many boxes, pencilled in by people who thought only to make their own lives richer, but didn’t think to look for the truth behind the lies. Too late to take back the mistake they made, their spirits turn to sludge as they trudge though Satan’s paperwork, getting tripped at every step.
Outside, rain dulls the senses, though the day is brightened by a fading line of bright sky on the horizon. Through dripping windows I watch the traffic lights go by, to sweep around the roundabout nearby.
Suddenly I catch sight of the golden glow on the central island, and I wonder how, or why, it passed me by. My eyes are awash with yellow narcissi, trumpeting silently, promising that Spring will come, as it always does.
I feel shame; it is the daffodils, and not me, which have become the change I want to see.
I let the feeling trickle through me, feed me, maybe improve me.
The rain ceases, the sun shows its face, painting the sky blue again, making the trees glisten with drops of nature’s liquid saviour.
The world turns at its usual speed, and even with our destructive nature, we are tiny, and we cannot slow it. We can kill the deer, and ourselves, but the planet will endure until infinite space holds up its hand.
But that is not enough for the deer, or for you and me.
Image: The least attractive portion of the view from my window, showing the army cadet building on the right, with the white buses below, and the daffodils on the traffic island behind.In summer the trees cover a lot af the scene, leading the eye toward green hills on the horizon.
©Jane Paterson Basil