The wind whistled sharply through the valley,
blowing the trees into fantastic wild shapes.
The wheat fields flattened in its path,
the fragile fences struggled to stay upright.
The wind tumbled up the hill.
It thumped at the doors and windows of the farmhouse,
making it creak and groan.
A light was on inside the house, late on the stormy night.
Rain poured down and spattered on the corrugated iron roof,
magnifying the sound of the gale.
Throughout the vicious storm the house stayed silent within,
as an old man softly mourned for the death of his wife.
The fire inside sparked
the chair that stood in front of it
was turned away.
Its occupant had his head bowed
in a bizarre type of prayer.
A crippled hand, twisted with rheumatism
held the brow, massaging pain away from beneath the skin.
The warmth of the fire was dying away,
just as he was.
Just as others had before him.
The light of the diminishing fire caught on a photo.
Black and white gleamed out.
The pale skin of a loved one shone in the semi-darkness.
He looked up.
His face was wrinkled with guilt and age,
his eyes were sunken.
His mouth was down-turned with sadness,
but buried deep inside him was love.
Memories gently flowed into his mind.
… a flower… the creek… freshly baked bread,
but most of all the smell of old lavender;
the light sound of her laughing at the children.
But then they were over-powered by silence and the heavy damp smell,
Dawn broke over the farm.
The fire was dead now, not a glowing coal was left.
But though the sun was rising, coming over the hills.
The old man stayed put.
He did not rise, or even stir.
The life from his body had left with the night.
But a smile had been left on his lips.
The memory of a smile.
The memory of his life.