Vastatio

 We walked miles countless through salted fields and meadows thick with mud and drew our carriages along the storm drains. We mustered a boy to turn an ear out to the way came and listen for engines or horns or animal’s bray coming up our rear. We crept through nights and weeks from our neighbourhood aflame and took turns on the harness to stumble towards our salvation and placed our faith in a map memorised as it crisped to black. 

 On some daybreak with no referent save the ends of our hope we came upon the sight of chimney smoke in pillars from the far hillface unseen. We grew silent in thoughts of sanctuary and doubled our laboured pace.

 We kicked the bootblack embers and the grey-white ash into clouds from the hollow doors of homes that still smouldered and breathed smoke and did not stop to forage. The village for which we walked naught but a tomb. We halved our rations again and continued on without destination. Our misfortune surprised us none.

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