Can we possibly achieve peace on this green and blue earth that God has blessed us with?
For many years now, wars have raged across the several nations of the globe; wars of ethnic cleansing, wars of valor, wars of sadistic expansionism.
Once, when i was a boy of fourteen, I was taken by my father who was at the time Arch Duke of Milan to the battle front of Sparta where Napoleon drove down deeply along the shores of the Adriatic in great and powerful golden tanks driven by mighty steam, spears bristling all about him, the red crested plummage of a strange African bird splaying out from the crown of his very small head.
My Father gripped tightly my pink hand and we looked down upon the field of battle from the basket of an experimental dirigible on loan from the Sicilian Queen. Napoleon's tanks had torn up long black tracks of sod where bodies and blood collected and began to scab in huge pools, and the Spartans, so poorly prepared in their bronze breast-plates and copper swords, were mangled by the thousands, only their quickest messengers able to escape, one man per hundred, running in swift long-legged lopes in a thousand directions, the sun glittering off of their bloody backs, creating the illusion of a great slowly exploding mortar shell made of men.
My father pulled hard on the cord which activated the distilled petrol furnace and we rose up and up and up and the sounds of screaming and fire faded and a cloud of starlings whirled up around our basket. My father pulled lightly on my hand, as though it too were a cord, and I turned from the edge of the basket to look into his eyes. He went down on a knee, and with his damp, lanky and pallid fingers he brushed a lick of brown hair out of my face.
"Peter," he said to me, curling up the corner of his razor thin lip in his best approximation of condolence, "I thought that here, over the field of manly valor, I might now be able to best explain how it was that your mother..." He turned to look out at the cloud-shrouded moon which had just risen there in the late afternoon. "How your mother passed." He almost hissed the last, and then he bit his lip, which I remember even now as a thing my father never had done before, nor would he ever again.
His eyes grew steely then, and he put both hands firmly on my narrow shoulders and he held me out away from him so that we each leaned against the outer wall of the basket on either side.
"Peter. You should know. Your mother was not Ms. de Borneo and she did not run away with your sister to Norway." He crossed himself and closed his eyes for a moment. He looked up again and I saw the birds reflected in his pale gray eyes.
"Peter, your mother attended on our late Queen, Lady Marie, and like our dead queen she lost her head to that fiend Robspierre. She was a common lady, to be sure... " and then he took me tight in his arms, a crushing embrace, and he whispered in my ear so softly I barely heard, "but she was so very noble in her soul."
He wept on my shoulder, briefly, and then he stood up and turned away.
The balloon had slipped, then, from a warm breeze into a downdraft of cool, dry air. I saw off to the north a brown hawk, silhouetted against the setting sun, hanging, suspended, motionless. And then I peered over the lip of the basket and saw that the field was engulfed in flames. There was a tank that had ground to a halt, its shell cracked open, the flaming bodies of the two French artillery officers draped over the broken treads like two smoldering rags.
Napoleon had taken a fine White Arabian war horse from a dead lieutenant and ridden up onto a low dune overlooking the field. All around the dune, piled in the surf were the bodies of Frenchmen and Spartans, the corpses entangled, all embracing, the foam turning to a dull rusty color, the sand thickening into a fetid black.
And I thought then of childish dreams of Norway. Of tall, majestic stave churches and the pale, drawn cheeks of a viking war lord. I thought of my sister, a princess in a mountain aerie, Odin's own eagles watching over.
But now, god, now, Giant Squid, wise serpent of the briney deep, all i can see are the beaks of crows clotted with the burnt blood of Frenchmen and Greeks, and that narrow, terrible little man on his white horse slinking away from the battlefield, clearly ashamed for having riven an entire dream of a nation.
What can we do about this world?
Antonio de Milan
To rise so high up out of the shadowy darkness is to risk decompression and the terrible writhing pain of boiling blood. Be wary of those quick, warm currents which can send you hurtling to the surface. Sink fast and quick into the cool embrace of the black abyss. Do not trouble yourself with the waves and flows of surface weather. Turn inward toward your toothy tentacles and your razor sharp beak. Only there can you find the comfort and security you seek.
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