The Color of a Soul
by Lynda Allen
His face was empty but I could still glimpse his life in his eyes. A life that no longer mattered here on this field of destruction. I can feel movement around me but all I can do is look into his unblinking eyes. He was my brother in what seems like another world. I can’t remember my own name, only the color of his eyes in the summer sun. How could someone we don’t know have taken his life? I can’t grasp the truth or insanity of it.
Bullets and bodies continue to fall around me but have no impact on me. Not a tear falls upon his body; they dried up long ago with others lost. But this, this is different. I have no words for the difference, for the smell in the air, for the scene before me. It’s beyond anything imaginable, beyond Sunday school Hell. The sounds register on some level, the cries and orders barked around me. Still none of it touches me. There is only him and me and this frozen moment. Frozen like the cold blue of his eyes, frozen like the blood in my veins. No anger emerges to set me in motion, to avenge his small life, a life small enough not to be noticed by those who lunge past. A life unnoticed by the eyes of war.
Someone removed me eventually from the site and later his body was collected and counted and prepared for the last trip home. They let me accompany him; not knowing what else to do with me. I had not spoken nor heard a word since they found me there by his side. What to do with a soldier who can neither speak nor hear? Ship him home along with the dead, as useless to the battle as they now are. They don’t know I never left that battle. Still I reside there where my heart, my hope, my brother’s last breath lay buried among the monuments of great deeds.
Great deeds; brothers killing brothers they’ve never known. My greatest deed was being his older brother. That deed ended with one bullet from the gun of one who never knew the color of his eyes dead or alive. For the color was slightly different in death. I didn’t know the soul had color, but it must for it took some blue from his eye when it left him behind. The mud on his face, the tone of his skin, the ever present green of his uniform, all were the same. All the same but his eyes. If his eyes had been closed things might have been different. I might have been able to move or breathe.
So I flew home beside him thinking it couldn’t get worse, but back home I had to look Mom in the eyes, eyes the same color as his in life, now the same color as his were in death. Life and soul gone from her too. A flag, a dog tag, a telegram how can they fill a void so wide?
I wanted to comfort her. I wanted to have the right words. There are no words of comfort from a field of battle drenched in blood and sorrow. The best I could do was to lead her away from the grave where her heart now lay buried, just as they led me away from the ground where my heart lies. What will grow where hearts lie buried? There’s nothing for me but to silently pray that where a heart is buried, love can one day put down roots.
(inspired by the Carbon Leaf song, The War Was in Color)