A Morning’s Songstress

by Callum B. Downes

She rises with the golden sun and simply is. Shimmering reverberations signal her awakening, tempting her peers to respond in chorus. Ever so gently, the waking song undulates, filling the peaks and troughs of sweeping hills with enticing harmony. Pastures now plentiful with tune, feed the soul post-harvest. She bursts forth from her haven with an effortless flutter, boasting elegance and grace. Sweet buzzing now pollutes the air, as her feathered friends salute a new day. A picture of contentment.

Menacing buzzing begins to stab, piercing the peace of dawn. Dust, thicker than puss, rises in monstrous plumes, blinding the paths of a morning’s songstress. Rising further still, rising past giant canopies, rising again to strangle sunlight, rising, forever rising. Plunged into deathly darkness, the choir clench their breath. Just sit and wait. Hold on. Don’t breathe.

And like the joints of a defeated man of vast age, the voices of ancient relics groan in resistance. One by one, these joints crack and tumble, as the history of a million years is torn down into the earth. Replaced by dust, grit and fire. Ripping out homes, taking safety from a symbol of beauty, fire consumes it all. Fire, feeding lightless, lifeless, overbearing walls of smoke into the soul. All is black, all is lost, lost amongst the appetite of human progress. The songstress will rise no more.

He rises from the table, covered head to toe in the dark toils of his day’s labor. A roof over their head and bellies full, his providence is his pride. A just reward considering the grit beneath his nails and the constant reminder of death gnashing his spine. A small price to pay. He places his axe and saw, and crumbles into bed, a withering mess gushing with inner turmoil. His heart a wild fire. All is black, all is lost. No hope of freedom, no hope of beauty, no hope of contentment, no hope. Hold on. Don’t breathe.

An evening’s songstress, silhouetted against a setting sun, perches upon the window frame and instills hope into his heart. Feeds grace into his soul. ‘What have we done?’ He cries. ‘Has our greed destroyed our contentment?’

Callum B. Downes