Thorn. ~ a composite photograph by Michael Douglas Jones
I was not the first to touch the thorns beneath the foliage, to taste the blood on the berry before I savored the sweet fruit. I was not the first to feel the pain, but still desire the taste again, and I can tell you of temptation, of danger, of sweet, and of pain, but I was not the first to touch the thorns, and you will not be the last.
Midnight of the long night moon, and like far away thunder, the battery wagons rumble
across the train track, south of the railroad cut; you stir slightly in your
pinewood cot, beneath a worn, but warm, wool blanket. Your redtick hound lifts her
ears, but does not bark. The crick crackle of the fireplace settles you back to
sleep, after a weary day of the world at war.
I place my
artillery at the crest of the distant ridge, and wait until the light of
predawn. The first shell drifts left, hitting the well house; the second takes
the chimney, collapsing brick and mortar, sending oakwood smoke and flame
through your room, until all that is left is ember and ash. Your redtick hound
howls, but does not leave you. You keep your silence and stand, with no surrender, accepting the smoke and flame.
I know this,
because I am you, and the deeper demons at
work here, beneath the long night moon. I am the hunter; I am the hunted. Logic
is my lantern, and yet, I lift the linstock and light the slow match.
Tonight, I return home after this weary day of war, the road north of the railroad
cut well lit by the waning moon at my back. My cot is cold and old pinewood;
the fire is welcome and warm. My redtick hound sleeps at my side, and stirs only
slightly at the sound of far away thunder.