Piave by Julián Péter
~ Sunshine, I am home…
Aim, fire, reload. Aim, fire, reload. A merry-go-round of life and death.
I am a lightning, I am a thunder, I am rain. The storm god himself.
Under the relentless downpour another falls. Whom did I send home now? Another one. Farewell, give my greetings. Another one. This time from among us. Private Rotzky is already home. Brave boy. Lucky. I am still stuck here.
Aim, fire, reload. Aim fire, reload. Alright boys, brothers, you can leave. I will hold out somehow.
Others fall. Why aren’t they smiling? You are going home. Why the screams? The last howl of wind.
I don’t notice the lightning anymore. I don’t notice the thunder anymore. Not even the rain. Only the wind does not give me peace, only the wind.
~ I am here. I will not leave you. I will be forever by your side.
A wise man doesn’t hold on to a serpent. He avoids it. However, we still clutch it in our hands, the water serpent Piave. How many souls did it devour?
For the Emperor – people say. I say for me. There is no mercy in war. No understanding. For me. The man is not a man. The man dies, the animal lives.
Am I an animal? I am still alive. Lungs breathe only death. Where has the air gone? Everything was a lie. An illusion.
The trench is my coffin. Mud and dirt my satin. Blood my flower. It is my dream. Reality. Wish. Only choice. The most beautiful funeral.
I want to live.
~ Sunshine, I love you. You are my Merlot, Cabernet. Full of life. Full of light…what is happening? A crack in your goblet, the wine is seeping away!
I want to kill. Nobody goes home. Too late. Nobody will see their Sun. Kill. You will stay here with me. I don’t want to be alone. We will all stay here. Forever. For the Emperor, For me. You and I. Damned.
Men are long dead. Only animals remain. The last howl of wind. Last screams.
Fix bayonets! Fire! Forward! Out of the coffin! Out of the trench! March!
~ Breathe, dear. Don’t die. Don’t let your heart tear with grief. I am here. Standing next to you. Forever. Forever.
An animal tears an animal. Cuts. Stabs. Steel claws carve the meat. Our last hour. We die by dozens. Alone, I have killed dozens. Another falls under the bayonet. Brother, you will not return home. You will feed the serpent. Serpent Piave.
Pain. Then relief. I lay down into my coffin. Satin. A red flower. A steel claw in my chest. Thank you. I am free.
~ Sunshine, I am home…where are you?
Photos: the author