Lament Of The Land

Ira Zettler

© Copyright 2004 by Ira Zettler


Photo of a dry lake bed.

"If I speak with the tongues of Angels and of men but have not charity,
then I am as sounding brass or tinkling cymbals."
Corinthians 13:11

Nobody that lives in the city can know what it’s like to sit and watch as your crops wither and your animals sicken and die from want of water. Nobody that has the luxury of turning a tap on whenever they please, can feel what I feel, when I reached for my rifle to silence the plaintive sounds, of yet another sheep blinded by the hungry pecking of crows. To dispatch from this world, those animals too weak or malnourished to be able to stand unaided or simply too costly to keep. Cattle, sheep, horses, even your faithful dogs become statistics, when your bank overdraft is no longer able to comprehend or sympathise at the cost of fodder or Pal “Meaty Bites.” When sheer need, overrides any past stubbornness, where pride is swallowed and forms are signed, so that wives, children and family can remain fed and clothed. Furtive looks, condescending stares, embarrassing silence, mocking those that had never previously seen the inside of a Welfare Office. Sympathetic clucking, embarrassing questions, mingled with those around you that seem to already be dead. Dirty children, shoeless mothers, stained carpet, no hope for them that seem to have lost all hope. Yet once it was all so different, you were younger, stronger more eager to please, you loved, you lived, you fought for your country, (as your father and grandfather and his grandfather before him had done) you believed in everything that was good and honest and fair. Your link to the land was as primordial as time itself. Your world was the seasons and the seasons were you; the two could never be separated. Then the rains failed. That which gives life refused to do so and all that once was, simply ceased to be. The earth cracked and heaved up its mantle, only to have it blown away by avaricious winds. Winds that battered and traumatised even the hardiest of plants and trees and reduced crops to piles of stinking, worthless undergrowth. Tempers flared, children who once played happily and chattered endlessly, now stared blankly or became silent altogether. Wives and mothers burdened with unpaid accounts and hungry stomachs became tight lipped and cantankerous. Youthful looks and midnight whispers disappeared to be replaced with furrowed brows and cold shoulders. Pain was dulled with alcohol or subdued by the mindless repetition of a late night chat show. Endless nights tormented by all that had been and that had been lost and would never return. “Why hast thou forsaken me Oh Lord?” “Why hast thou cast me out of paradise?” For surely the man that works the fields with his hands, is closest to God? But now it’s harder than ever to think that God has not forsaken the farmer or the family on the land when all ones sees is dust, blight and ruin. If I could curse the rains down from the heavens or sacrifice my own soul to make the heavy thunder clouds appear then surely I would do this.

But still the rains do not come....

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