A Continuing Haibun Cycle
The runner stank of sweat. Mud from the road coated him to the knees, and there was blood dried on his face and hands. His eyes rolled white in his sunken face, and he collapsed to the earth, holding his stomach as the breath ripped in and out of him. One of the woodcutters dropped his bronze axe and moved to the man’s side. The woodcutter, a big man with only the wisps of hair remaining on his wide head, listened to the runner’s rasping, an ear close to the blood-flecked lips. After a dozen breaths went by, the woodcutter’s eyes grew wider. He leapt up from the earth and bellowed out a single word.
The village burst into a panic as the noise of his shout rolled away toward the broken hills beyond and to the west. The boy watched all of this, his small hands clasped before him, his pale eyes taking in the frantic movement of these, his captors.
He didn’t know what the word meant, but that was not unusual. These folk had a strange dialect, and he had only been here a few turns of the moon. The woman who kept him as thrall went careening across the road, gobbling like a giant, wounded bird. The boy thought of how she gave him short rations at night and made him sleep outside in the chill darkness. Her frantic behavior continued as she grabbed the dirty shirt front of the bread baker and yelled into his face. Spittle flew from her lips and hung in his straggling beard.
He slapped her hands away and pushed her. Her worn boot heel caught on a stone and she sprawled to the muddy ground. Her face went red, and a new tirade of unintelligible nonsense spewed forth. The bread baker did not stand by to hear it, ducking inside his cooking shed and coming back with a massive cooking knife. The boy smiled slightly.
“Dolgur,” he whispered to himself. He moved behind the pile of deadfall kindling he’d brought back from the forest’s verge. He was not tall enough to easily peer out from this shelter, so he set to work, laboring to pull a chopping block into a good place. He pulled with all his strength, hoisting the fat log, though it weighed nearly as much as he did. Dropping it behind the woodpile next to a natural peep-hole space in the kindling, he settled his narrow hind end and watched the growing mayhem.
These folk, my captors
Make them mad, consume them all,
I bless this Dolgur
Give me a good seat
To watch the coming mayhem
A view to their doom
Bring me the next dawn
Free, whether escaped or dead
A thrall no longer