Life From Death

Adam Wykes


Come with me this morning and see what my field has grown said the old farmer to his son


No the son said last night I heard them die but the farmer took his son by the arm and drew him up saying if you will not provide the courage then I will sow it in you and they left in the lumenent darkness.


We should bury them or burn them said the son because it is awful and anyways they would want it he said but his father held his turning shoulder as he did his ox plow telling him without ever turning from the red and black shirts with bodies inside them the color of the raised clay dirt road between his rice paddies that the soldiers had killed these souls on his property and that therefore he alone held jurisdiction over the fate of these erstwhile beings now already alien and bloating and thrumming with flies in their eyesockets that he alone could dictate their use and the son tried to shake free father he said we cannot use their bodies it is insulting but the father sat them down upon the road

Who do they insult they are dead and I wish to use them and would thank them for this opportunity for they might have died where I could not have used them they are like a fish that dies in my fields


The son looks at his father because he is unwilling to look at the dead and in his father’s eyes he sees great tiredness of the kind he saw there before when grandmother died and he remembers what his mother told him then:


Swallow what is bitter in the cup and move on he repeats her words that is what mother says the sayings say says the son but the father says nothing.


They stay there the rest of the day for it is near the end of the season and there is little else to do and when they return to the village the son tells his neighbor’s father of the dead and how he had been made to look upon the dead to which the man replies that his father is a tough old bird and nothing more or less and the son is not satisfied but returns to his house where he eats well and sleeps poorly


On the next morning and the morning after and the morning after that morning the father takes his son to see the bodies which he will not clear from his fields though they begin to stink and attract raucous birds and lines of flesh-gorged ants and piles of maggotry and on the fourteenth morning of this practice the son asks his father how long and his father replies you must look at it long and for the first time though it looks more horrible than ever before, the son looks.


On the fortieth night of this practice the father farmer and the son stay the night upon the road and the son falls sleeping and when he wakes from the pile of bones and putridity has as a phantom come a few pale sprouts of fungus and in the days that follow these are subordinated by the appearance of green sprouts and leaves and on a day unexpected the dead are become a heap of dirt and flora in the road as though bewitched by some metaphor incarnate.


Now the son considers this and sees a lesson in it and speaks of it to his father who agrees and says that no evil can come of this world that will not be redressed in full and his son admires his father’s wisdom but says still he does not understand why they could not have waited and come back if the father knew the time and the hour of the replenishment of the dead and his father smiles as they return to join in the harvest that what we do with sincerity pays the greatest reward, and when the son sleeps he sees now the tracks of the christian satan roaming through the earth and the buddha god behind kicking sand in them and mirth is in his eyes and this mirth is the product and the purpose of the world.


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