Django woke slowly as the heavy dusk closed in,

Framed within a simple deal window. The street below

Began to quieten. Stray comments wafted from the inn;

Across the way drinkers cursed the gathering, drifting snow

As he lay in semi-wakefulness. The dying sun flicked

A parting salute along the cobbled roadway, her crimson

Painting its gaudy standards in fairground red. The rule was strict:

For ex-cons like Django--good behaviour or back to prison.

A chopper throbbed in a Belgian sky; he shivered and hid

Beneath the blankets. Could the cops still be looking for him?

On the run three weeks now, at nineteen just a growing kid,

He hadn't meant to hurt anybody, only steal bourbon, gin.

Why had that old guy put up such a fight? Why the bat

Behind the counter? He'd had no choice but to defend himself

From the old duffer: just let him on his way and that's that;

In the end he grabbed two Beefeaters from a lower shelf.

For Django the world was slate grey, no blacks or whites,

Save for his family and the life it gave; at once both fortress

Cradle of his infancy, and freewheeling crucible for his lights;

His innate sense of fairness denied stoked his rebelliousness.

As a young boy he beheld a tragic scene that no child should:

In the middle of a dense copse of beech lay the remains

Of a sea eagle, inert upon the leaf litter of an ancient wood,

Itself a survivor of the trials of centuries. Like dancing cranes

The bird's head, flung back as if to bow and leap in cold air

While raising great wings in salutation. Django held that sight

Deep within his Romany heart, steadfastly unwilling to share

The crushing majesty of a loner that had lost its final fight.

Not yet twenty, Django had learnt of the fragility of this life

Of ours; that strengths ebb away, that triumphs soon are ashes

In our mouths. A world away from tawdry crime and the knife,

our dance is as brief and ephemeral as the red sun flashes.

◄ The Dark Land

The Thunder Comes ►


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