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Pyre (for the children of Waco) (1 Viewer)


Honoured/Sadly Missed
WF Veterans
I build the pyre slowly and carefully, hands calm. A classic shape of logs and sticks, tinder where she should be, densities and dryness judged and placed just so. I build the pyre to burn slow and fierce, with more heat than light, for nights like this it's best to keep a low profile.

I am 14 years down the road you were denied. 14 years older and more exhausted and every day more disgusted and afraid. It has gotten worse. It will grow worse yet.

14 years ago, children. I watched you die. Millions watched you die and were lied to about it. The difference between myself and them are simple and dual:

I did not believe them.

I have not forgotten you.

I light the pyre and smile when a single match suffices. A well built fire will not disappoint. Nations and noble experiments may crumble, but the dry bones of trees will burn if positioned right. Every time. A reassuring pattern in an unsure world.

The flames grow and dance and I let the sight of your burning home dance there in the light and heat. I feel the old revulsion -- faded but still there -- coil inside my guts.

As flame takes its fuel, I play with possibilities in my head. Alternate worlds where you did not die, worlds you walk even now.

A dark haired beauty, 18 years old, hitching her way through the Southwest, towards golden California. She tells stories sometimes, of the weird family she finally tired of and left behind. She has a tattoo of a butterfly on her shoulder and she has broken seven hearts already. She means no harm, but she is far from through.

A wiry young man in a baseball training camp in Houston. A wonderboy they found in the middle of nowhere. He's shy and polite, quiet in the face of the city boys and gruff pros he now mingles with. They call him 'Tex' with a mixture of humor and jealousy. When he swings the world thunders. When he throws, lightning is born.

A chubby blonde trembles at her interview for the big library in Albuquerque. Six years of school she suffered through, for the honor of a low salary and a world of books. Her nervousness belies the peace she feels at the walls and canyons of paper and that glorious smell. She fits here. She can feel it. "Waco." she says, in response to the question. "I guess you could say I had a non-traditional childhood." She laughs.

Painful, these might have beens.

The fire is at peak, and whole sagas dance in that orange red heart. Whole dramas and comedies blur there through wet eyes.

I look up and you sit with me, frightened, confused children still. There is no anger. That is for me to feel. There is no justice, that was denied. Your killers faced no consequences.

I look back into the fire, away from your eyes. I watch until the flames shrink and flicker out. I stare at the white ashes that pulse with dark heat. I let the ashes become a patch of ruin in Texas. I let them become the ancient blood soaked sands of Iraq, the stony fields of Afghanistan. A stoop in New Jersey where a man died convulsing, begging 'not in front of the kids.'

I hope in this world of ghosts you are not lonely.

I can only stay a moment more. The pyre is burned, the heat has fled. The cold and damp creep up again, as they always will. But I will make this promise, the same promise I make every year:

I will speak the truth of how you died, in the face of lies.

And I will never forget you.

Goodnight, children.

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I lived in Waco at the time of the tragedy. Still do. I know it must seem a little ironic, espescially in light of my recent infatuation with your work.
Now this piece is different. Don't mistake, I am in awe of it as well.
But I have my own memories of what happened. Not just those embedded with watching the whole thing unfurl on television, but with knowing David Koresh personally and knowing some of his followers/captives.
Before the cult seemed to form, the horrific part of it, (or at least to my knowledge and please understand, I was only seventeen at this time) the Branch Davidians were no more than religious hippies as far as the "fine" folk in Waco knew.
They had set up a commune of sorts in the midst of an affluent Jewish/Protestant neighborhood, and often held 'sales' of handmade items, etc. And the residents of the neighborhoods seemed to be pleased with the treasures they would purchase.
My husband and I were expecting our first child (yep. married real young) and we bought a baby bed from a particular family that had several children, but all were grown beyond the need of a baby bed. I remember the family was really 'cool' and my husband and I really enjoyed the few hours we spent with them.
When we left, we both marveled at how content their children seemed to be, how well behaved, how obedient but not stifled, if that makes any sense.
Of course, being so near that hippie lifestyle ourselves, we mused that our own children would be so happy.
Years down the road, David Koresh was in a particular circle of friends, and for some time, people seemed to enjoy his company and his challenge, because to talk to him was, indeed, a challenge.
But he estranged himself over a short period of time. I can only pretend to know what was going on in his mind, as any of us can.
I was at work when the fire started. We all ran to the break room and watched in unified horror, each of us casting different speculations as to what had started it, etc.
Over the next several weeks, I was very involved in the investigation due to the nature of my work. I had privy to many, many different reports.
The ones that touched my heart were those that had to do with the surviving orphans. And I could not help but remember those children from oh, so many years ago, that had seemed to blossom in the light of their parents' upbringing. How they would seemingly have done anything that was requested of them, and were not only obliged but gleeful to do so. Much the same way the children involved in the Koresh cult were, or at least I believe so.
I'm embarressed to say I have not thought about those children in a very long time, until I read what you wrote.
I am wondering if you have or had some personal connection. Regardless, you have captured, on paper, thoughts that are most certainly provoking.
I apologize for 'hijacking' your thread, but unlike you, I had forgotten.
I'm ashamed, and in some way, this is my apology.


Honoured/Sadly Missed
WF Veterans
Paige --

Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts. I could ask for no higher compliment than the fact that this piece made you think and remember that horrible day.

I write a little something every April 19th for the children killed that day. That day was a crux point in my life and thought. Everything after that day was seen in a different light -- so far as the nature of government and the 'right' of the powerful to rule the powerless.