“And all that I said shall come to pass. There will be food and drink for the people in great abundance.”
These were the words of some parrot-feathered prophet a few years ago, who lifted his arms and whose gaze pierced the firelight when he spouted prophecy to the people, to whom his words seemed to grow out of and into the mesh of shadows that danced around them and often extended as far as the forest. The forest got darker and darker every moment as the burning sun swung lower and lower, to scorch some other part of the world.
They’d finished most of their planting today and the soil had been dry. One man had begun work earlier than the others and had ended later. He sat on a log, next to his wife and his sister, with one arm extended over his knee and bent up to support his chin. That he sat with only the women was silently noted especially by those men who felt uneasy about the quality of their work. He was the best, they knew, and he hadn’t had to make up for anything.
The words of the future enthralled him as much as the others, perhaps more so. He had felt the weight of the earth all that day, how it pressed up against his feet, how it fell through his hands, how it was a part of his body. When he looked up at the tall trees and their broad shade in the afternoon, either longingly from a distance or gratefully during one of his short breaks, he was amazed that he could participate to such a degree as he did in the drama of growth: him in his petty dry field next to the immensity of the forest, which still buzzed with life despite much of it being second growth, which still echoed of mystery and even danger during the nighttime though, he supposed, they had long since slain the last of the coyotes.
He felt, perhaps more than anyone else, that if these fields lived or died, if the plants flourished or wilted, it would be by his hands. Of course, there was God. So perhaps it was not understood so literally; but, he was a part of these fields. And he felt that when he dug into the earth with a so much greater vigor than any of the others that he was becoming more of a part of the farm, that he was almost literally burying each of the seeds with at least a stools’ worth of his own pure life. They were being nourished as if they were inside of him and they would rise or fall with him.
He carried the seeds when he foraged for fruit or hunted in the forest, when he made love and, afterward, discussed truths quietly with his wife, when he was with friends or alone. He spent countless time imagining them, in their soft pouches in the earth, beneath (he preferred) starry nights, which in his mind rolled over the world like ocean waves with the tide of the sun’s rotations. He knew the science, of course, but to him the world felt very deep.
Was he really so unimportant? he wondered.
He pondered the prophet’s meaning.
Were he to die or abandon the fields, would there still be so much food?
He imagined taking the seeds with him and turning once to make sure he was not being followed and entering the forest’s colors. There would be a place for him somewhere else and his seeds. He imagined night there, chasing him from before but not unwelcome, like a persistent friend. He would always have the seeds.
And the prophet went on.