Will Gatti & Daniel Finn




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When the autumn mist rolled away, there were the fields and hedgerows almost as they always had been: this one with a slight rise, then falling away to a slow, surprisingly small but well known river, still called The Somme; over there, the land still green, dew fresh, perhaps with cattle grazing. Everywhere were fields ploughed and ready for late autumn sowing. Nothing remarkable.

Nobody saw the soil on the ploughed field shifting. Just a tiny ripple, or shrug, and where before there had only been soil there was now the toe of a boot; then, unmistakably, a hand and wrist, and over there, a face, pale against the soil, eyes closed.

Moments later and there was a young man in khaki, sitting bolt upright, looking around, buttoning his jacket, rolling his shoulder to ease some long ago ache. He levered himself upright, brushed the soil from his trousers, frowned down at his boots, then lifted his head, and breathed in the autumn sky. Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 19.50.18

He seemed unaware that all around him, others like him or not so like him, were waking from the earth, pulling the top soil back as if throwing off a blanket, rising to their feet; and then, like him, breathing in the world before slowly walking up the rise and out of sight.

Over in the field’s corner, pressed back and away from this birthing ground, were the cattle, their solemn eyes watching.

And perhaps in broken lands, where the streets have fallen in on themselves and there is little left of what might have been a city but scorched rubble, and iron, and oil staining the dirt, and the air hot and bitter, perhaps there, there is also a peeling back of the surface: men and women and children rising from the rubbled ground, shaking dust from their hair, lifting their faces to the sky, and perhaps around them the towers and tenements pour upwards into what they had been.


 Not so far away ghost cities and villages shimmer in the heat, freeze in the cold. Unseen, unremarked…

Can you hear the startled shriek of a crow as it reels away, desert bound, its shadow a flicker against the hard light?