I will tell you. Our village no longer exists and we have been told
never to use the old language. They took our names away and
sometimes when I see the old man who returned he calls out to me
but I must not answer. Everything in the small library was burnt
and the river runs in another direction and the old bridge stands
alone in a field. There are places in the woods that are still heavy
with terror. Some of us still have keys to missing doors. It is best
in winter when the snow hides so much. Last year one of the men
who fled came back boasting of the fortune he had made abroad.
He said that he didn’t have to leave his new home to win wars.
He described the beauty of the drone. When they could stand his
boasting no longer three of the men took off his head. They could
not find anything inside it so they put it back on and sat him down
outside the school building so that he could hear the children and that
night the large birds came back and tore into him and his red silence.
I will tell you. This never heals. Words as wounds. What is never said.
When the snow goes there are places missing. We face each other by
not looking at each other. When a stranger asks us we want to talk
about what was once so simple, so ordinary, not how they tore its face
away, hid it. You cannot make a story of denials. We dare not even
now look closely at the river.The boys no longer swim there. Silence
rapes us again and again. The silence of the priests. The silence of the
judges. The silence of a table, a door, a garden. The silence of spoons.
The silence of the wine bottle. The silence of the words on the page.
The silence in the eyes of the men who were soldiers. It is as if every
window in this place had been blinded. What is toy? What is Play?
They ask us about the nuns, the school, the hospital, the library; who is
it what we can believe in, where does a prayer go? Each evening the
old men go out to talk to their horses. Even the horses do not believe
them. Some of the children remember running so fast they thought that
their feet would catch fire, that they were already dead, already denied.
I will tell you. I will write all this down in my head. I will write a bit of
it each day. I will abandon sleep. I will walk between the ruins of
buildings and ideas and memories and even jokes to define the identity
of war; its ideas, its intrigue, its flags, its maps, its necessities;
codes, betrayals, objectives, tortures, rewards, fantasies, marches.
I will fill my head with this and finally be silent. You see, you must
see, how it will break my heart. I tell you this as it buries me alive.
Meanwhile every weapon ever invented will be used somewhere,
history will be decided by people who were never there, the raptures
of our blood and state become operas, the monuments continue to lie.
It is not about the silences but about what silences don’t say,
it is not about the fields but what lies beneath the fields,
it is not about the media but what the media fails to report,
it is not about the armies but what each soldier totally denies,
it is not about the priests but they way they hide in prayers,
it is not about the politicians but the dreams of politicians,
it is not about the dead bodies but the things never recovered,
it is not about the doors blown open and the windows that witness,
it is not about the mothers who still breast feed their infant ghosts,
it is not about the mad men making their nests in dead trees:
it is about the invention of a weapon and to whom it is sold..
I tell you. I go out each night and talk to the horse and ask him
if he has seen any of my brothers. After the war a letter arrived
with a photograph inside. A man and a woman and a child with
no names. Their eyes said nothing. The package was damaged
and filled with rain. We could find no address. We placed it in
the bedroom with the other things, the old things, the silent and
broken things, the objects that no longer have a meaning to sing.
War art montage Claire Palmer