The Ashen Fields

A Prose Piece by Brian Barbeito

The highway ended there and all that was left was a small road that meandered like a half plausible thing out to the adjoining countryside. We went and went and went until that road fused seamlessly into a dirt passageway that met with overgrown shrubs wild as they were and other nameless and forgotten trees meshed with them and tall grasses to create a large wall that said we were nowhere. Still the sun went there and we walked around it all to a field that once housed a smart and curt fence but that was now broken and strewn along the ground like some sort of carcass or part of the ruins of a town left to be bleached and parched and faded in the hard and difficult and unforgiving sun. I felt thirsty and it was not a real thing, but a psychosomatic thing or else a metaphysical thing there being not much there for the spirit or soul to love nevertheless like. The fields contained odd tires and pieces of metal and cheap yellow mason bricks from some decade prior and bits of the corners were broken or cracked and the ones that made right angles were still intact, but had no home or hearth, no wall or frame or identity or family or love. I remembered other places where the harvest was near and ripe black crows stood around or hawks hovered spry and sure and in their prime while if the environs were looked at closer, even small yellow birds busy in their hustle seemed to jump around through the air and about the world. I thought back to driving through places where an old couple walked along the shoulder hand in hand making talk about things that the dusk can absorb and house and like; the dusk amicable and the old church ahead with a bell and a sign and a purpose while the woman wore a spring or autumnal jacket and the man wore denim and plaid and had a comb in his pants pocket or a carpenter’s pencil in his shirt pocket and he and she and the masonry of the church and even the hunger and vehemence of the hunting birds looking for small and stray game made the cosmos make sense. But this place with the lonely bricks at the end of the world made no sense at all and the sun began to bend down on the sky like it wanted to take a drink of water and the angles of its light were antagonistic to the eyes and to everything like a last gunshot from space and I squinted and thought that the world is not a pretty painting, but a place full of astute trouble and I felt the sounds of clashing pans though there were no clashing pans. If the sky had sounded thunder or some cloud cover had ran in and if the entire place had opened with a storm first with big warm water drops and then creating a momentum and a veritable waterfall from above, the air would have been cleansed and the sun’s malevolence blocked out and things would have been different. But no such thing happened and only the broken road and the broken bricks and broken fences remained staring back at me in the unkind and ashen fields.

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