Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Wastage of the Willows – Branch I; Leaf III

Where teardrops fall…

Knowing he would not, COULD not get back to sleep – that now-distant land of physical and mental comfort: where, usually, for him, happiness ruled over the sadder elements of his rememberings, his imaginings – the Mole clambered down from his habitual resting place; stretched his sleepery and resisting limbs; moved the simmering porridge pan from the heat; donned his hat, dark glasses, mackintosh and galoshes (the scent of promising, fresh rain was beginning to creep in subtly even here: where warmth always ruled); selected a suitably stout stick from the large collection waiting patiently at hand, gathered like stocky stalks of corn in an old kibble by the armchair; and set off, climbing imperceptibly along one of the many curving corridors, towards the doorway he knew was nearest to the source of his annoyance.

The damp wrestled languorously with the promise of the coming season, as he quietly left his home behind: dew intermixing with rain; and, soon, too, to commingle with the Mole’s salty tears. Although he had pored over those damnable plans so many times in what he still thought of as Badger’s Study (where the large expanses of blue-printed sheets still lay about, piled high on desk, chair and floor, gathering well-deserved dust – he did not want the mice frightened by what they might not quite understand); and the trail he followed of regular, ever-increasing vibrations, then shakes and thuds, and finally booms – as if some humungous automaton’s heart beat harder and harder, deep within the earth: threatening, momentarily, repeatedly, to lift him from the ground… – SHOULD have been adequate warning; what he saw before him was unfailingly more stupendous in scale than his waking mind could grasp.

Not many days had passed since he was last here – as part of the regular challenging of his aging muscles to retain at least SOME of their past vigour – but the transformation, this time, was beyond even HIS experience. This wasn’t just a SMALL change in the landscape he HAD known and loved – and he was struggling to convince himself that its spirit was still, here, SOMEWHERE – this was DEVASTATION, an ERADICATION: programmed DETERIORATION, rather than PROGRESS, or the supposed DEVELOPMENT that had been forced on them. (Positive words, these last two, he deemed, for extremely negative actions.)

He had known that this would happen. He had not known when: how soon, how quickly. The many battles they had mounted – and gained; then lost; and then squandered: not just because of the chicanery and rapacious greed of the Wide World; the arrogance of the stouts and weasels; the uliginose, empty undertakings of the foxes – the war they had so nearly won – these had achieved nothing but the pausing of the inevitable; and it now appeared that, helter-skelter, the harrying had gathered pace: rushing fast-forward to catch up.

The Mole stood, moved terribly, but unmoving: shaken both physically and mentally by what he witnessed. He could not leave. He could not think. All he could do was sob, silently, until both he and the clouds ran dry; and the pounding finally ceased – pausing for breath, he thought: as if anthropomorphism would somehow help him comprehend… – but, as he would learn, soon to resume its inexorable battering.

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