I was hot as I ran down into the valley in the morning of the melting sun. The good valley ran from east to west. A spirit raced before the wind caught up with me, raced through me, and caused me to shiver. It was not the golden wind of the sun, but the silver wind of the moon I feared.
I came down a road, rutted from the spring rains, running past shacks and chapel-yard cemetery. A nun bowed in prayer. A peasant shoveled new earth.
“It is a hard clay and a cold ground,” he said.
“She was a hard woman, but had a warm heart,” the nun replied, “Maybe, she will warm the earth.”
On up the road into the good valley, spoiled by the sun and the chase, I ran. Behind, the frozen wind fell hard breaking the trees, felling the birds in air. You can not get away from the wind. I have tried. You can only run to the melting sun.
Morning ran up the good valley. So did I. The wind chased the noon which chased the morning which chased the sun. And I had to run. My shadows followed behind me more fearful than I. Closer to the wind they are. A innkeeper swept the porch. A dog rose to the chase. I could hear his bark following me.
“Get back here Henry!” the innkeeper yelled at the dog.
Crows of the valley, like vultures circling the dead, flew ahead of me to watch my escape. Curious to capture fallen trinkets that I might drop, they were my heralds with their caws. Two more dogs took chase behind me. Three cats ahead scattered. The black one crossed my path.
One dog turned and caught the black cat. It was the unlucky one.
Trees beside the road were dusty. I turned and looked back. The hard freezing dust caught in the coldest wind was a strangers sight never seen before. I, a stranger in this land, came to warn of the broken climate. But they did not listen. Now it was too late.
All I could do was run.
I never saw so many birds flying ahead. They sensed my urgency and it became theirs. A maddening flock grew. A million bird cornucopia of sound flowed and heralded my way before me. A carpenter with a big hammer pounded the nail of the cross-beam. “Damm shame she passed away,” he muttered to himself as he shook his head.
Rebecca, the girl with her solider, embraced. The urgency of war stood before them. Their eyes frozen in a moments eternity beheld one another. “I don’t want you to go,” she said.
“My mother is dead. I need to get away,” he replied mornfully.
“Come back safe to me,” said she.
“I will send for you as soon as I can,” he said.
“Oh, don’t go,” she pleaded.
“I must.” He turned to leave her.
Sometimes, they come back. Sometimes they don’t. And, sometimes they come back but are too broken.
I have been broken by a war, once long ago where an orange agent dosed my body as I ran in jungle and rice, leeches upon me.
I ran to the covered bridge over the river. The river chases the sun to the sea. I made it to the bridge. It embraced me.
But now it was late. The day was catching up to me. Time slowed as I became tired. The dusty road was settling into its quiet like an old man sitting for an evening drink. The trees moved slightly rapping with shadows. I could not go on any more.
Evening fell and the tavern was a well lighted, sheltered place. I was thirsty from the long run.
The old man joined me for a drink. “We need a light for the night,” he said as he wrote with pen on paper.
“The sun shall do,” I said.
“It is a good thing to have a light,” the old man said.
“The moon is not enough,” I continued, “Only the sun can chase the night away.”
“Perhaps you are right,” he said sadly.
The wind came down to the town of the quiet valley that had been defended by the sun. Clouds were chased away. Clear is the evening sky. Stars were coming out. The sun had run on ahead set in its’ course to defend the lands ahead one last time from the new cold.
And I held the drink to my lips one last time.
“She was my wife,” the old man said softly.
“What is her name?” I asked.
“Martha Jane,” he said.
“Yes,” he agreed. “There are no lilies in these clay fields, no flowers for her grave. They were her favorites.”
“Beautiful flowers,” I agreed.
“She is my winter’s angel.”
“I told ya not to smoke in here,” the bartender yelled at the solider, “get on out of here!”
The young solider watched the clock, took one last drink, one last puff of a ciggrette, snuffed it in his drink, got up and said and in sympathy said, “See ya pops. I have a train to catch.” He patted the old man on the back then left the tavern.
A train horn sounding became louder.
Having caught my breath I said, “The sun is upon the horizon. I must go.”
“Yes, quick!” He could sense my urgency.
There is a valley where once a cold wind blew, a good valley with a good town, frozen. All is frozen there. People like statues never to move again. A nun, a peasant, dogs and cats, a carpenter, a young lady and her solider, an old man writing with pen and paper.
Wind rattled the paper with these words of an old man flew:
The world has grown so cold,
All the forests are frosted,
None are left there to roam,
Except one alone.
White she is,
Whiter than the snow,
There she is,
Where the winter blossoms grow,
On whose petals she nibbles.
For what else is there to eat,
Beneath the bitter winter,
But those special blooms,
The petals of winters flower?
This is a winter that will never end,
She will never see spring again,
Mans’ careless solution,
Left too much pollution.
Last of its’ kind,
There are no other animals,
Left to find,
Upon all the Earth.
The world has grown so cold,
The White Deer listens for another,
Listens for another angel,
In the frosted forest,
Until the end of time.