1. All the Sons
They make no difference, no difference in the end.
Still hear the women say 'your daddy died a hero'
In the name of God of Men.
(Mother's Pride, G. Michael)
In Minas Tirith we teach our children to die like men.
In Minas Tirith we watch our men fall dead like children.
We train our children to wield swords before they can spell their names. We train our children to fight with faith in the White Tree, faith in an empty throne, faith in powers none of us can quite understand. And when they are old enough to leave, we send them away, with many blessings but little hope.
They fall fast these days. There is no one left in the White City with careless smile upon their lips. As years pass there are fewer and fewer who know to laugh without a care in this forsaken land, where the skies grow dark and the future grows faint. Those who still laugh soon learn the truth of our times: we do not die for others to live, we live so that others will not die. We send our proud young men away and wait for their return, but more and more we keep waiting in vain.
Young men stumble past us, moving onward with no direction. They just walk, slow and quiet, seeking a place to sit and rest with no dead brothers on their feet. We? We only search.
We pick them up and drag them carefully, laying them down beside their friends. At times we find them not whole, but pieces and parts. The younger maids puke what they did not dine when they find a hand still tight around the hilt of a sword, or cry out to find the arm which used to wrap itself around their waists now unmoving, bathed in crimson. We push those foul smelling beasts aside and pile them up, cleaning the way to find our lads dead or dying.
‘Tis hard to look at them and have them look back. Do they not deserve better sights to pass on with than the dull face of an old woman whose heart so dreary feels no more?
We do not feel, we only search.
There is one here who was not ours. As tall and built like the Gondor children, yet restful like ours can never be. They say the Western knew sufferment, if not a great and long as ours, at least much alike. But these golden haired lads lie in peace here, for they have no more business in the White City, they can leave all this behind and rest among theirs. We cannot. The one found at this side has the golden head of the horsemen, but lies so far from his brothers. Why were you here, child? What odd fortune had you fall to save a land of mourning women and doomed young boys?
He is drawn to where his own lie, and one more spear circles the bed of golden haired children lost to mothers who will forever wait in vain.
The beasts smell foul alive or dead, whole or burnt. No grass will grow where their ashes fall, but they deserve not even the mercy of our pyres. Those are reserved for our men, carried in piles to the Rath Dínen, to the silent chambers where they find an end in the purifying fire, smiles torn and forever gone as fires kiss their faces like we would for a last time. We learn that they are not the only our fires have kissed is this disgraceful day, and our hearts mourn as one, beating only because they must. We bid farewell with one last glance, then seek the open airs, sick of the smell of stolen youth.
They expect us to weep. Those who still stand need us to mourn the fallen, for in their hearts there is so little left of life or hope that they cannot even tell themselves from the living or the dead. We see in their faces, we hear it in their voices. But - do they know? What tears have we left for those granted better fate than ours?
For it must be better faith to lie in peace for now and ever than to stand deaden in this once green land, now dark as night, watching as doom unfolds, counting nameless heroes while back in the City those who will enter the journeys of the Age speak of faith in small persons and thirst for avenging blood.
We need no faith no more. We have long learned to bear hopeless futures in our wombs knowing that they are not ours to love and will never be ours to wait for.
Some, like the proud, never return. Some, like the young, fall ill to battle and fade away in agony. Some, like the wise, desist and take their wisdom away to a world where no true love and no dear son is ever gone.
‘Tis not over, we hear. Once more the men will leave, once more will we wait, and anew will be our misery when sunrise bring no whisper of our ill-fated sons. We will not weep, we will not search. We will wait.
One day, perhaps, our husbands, our sons, our heroes will return home with the rising of the sun. But while they still fall midway, we will search, we will weep, we will wait. And one day perhaps we will understand what faith is this we hold in the White Tree, in the empty throne, in the powers we canot understand and in those who come from tales of long forgotten past to lead us into a future we have long ceased to believe in.
- Dim Genesis, Dec 07 2002