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Sky is Peace
The sky is peace.
The girl remembered the words clearly, as if they were etched into her mind.
She remembered her grandfather, wrinkled and frail on the hospital bed, reaching out to her with shaky hands. She remembered him saying these words, eyes gazing towards the sky outside of his small window with a fond tint. She remembered him, cold and peaceful, dressed in a stiff suit as they lowered him into the ground.
The girl had cried, pushing against the strong adults who had held her away from her beloved grandfather as they shoveled the remaining dirt over the coffin.
Why the ground? Of the things furthest from the benign sky, surely the ground took the top? Why, why did they have to leave her grandfather trapped under the layers of earth, never to gaze upon his peaceful sky again?
-Let's cremate him! It's what Grandpa would have wanted!
She begged her mother, her father, but they were too invested in other things to hear her cries. Once, they had sat her down, and firmly told her that their family didn't, and never would, believe in cremation. They thought the idea strange, and too different from the general idea of burial so accepted in their society.
She thought of her grandfather often. She thought about the dynamic man he had been while he was alive. He was always active, adventuring outdoors and discovering things. He hated the senior home.
-It’s not the place for me! So stuffy, and they treat us as if we’re children, the nerve.
Her grandfather used his swift way with his vocabulary to chop down anyone who wanted him to move into a senior home. He was like a knight, armed with his sword of words, barreling his way through life. He had loved the way he lived, and the girl hoped that her grandfather had died happy.
She thought about his words to her as he lay in his hospital bed, covered by thin, starched white covers.
The sky is peace.
What did that mean anyway? What about the earth? When she had asked her grandfather, he had only given her a cryptic smile.
-You'll know when you're older.
He had told her gently, patting her head.
The girl now sat, and pondered over her grandfather’s statement with a thoughtful look.
Had he meant that since war and bloodshed all happened on the earth, that the sky was a virgin land, clean and untouched?
Had he meant that since pollution and all the hunting of animals happened on the earth, that the sky was a peaceful place, where every organism, regardless of whether or not they were human, could live in safety?
Had he meant that since the earth was closer to hell, and the sky was closer to heaven, that the sky was a fortress against evil, protected from the humans that would do others and it harm?
The girl frowned. There was something in common with all her hypotheses.
Had he meant that since humans, the cause of so much grief, lived on the earth that the sky could be pure, untainted by the sin and greed of all the people of the earth?
That was a sad conclusion, but no matter which way she looked at it, it made sense.
The girl sighed. Her grandfather was a deep man. To have thought up such a profound statement on his deathbed...
The sky is peace.
The statement disturbed her. She tried to think of what her grandfather had meant. Perhaps the metaphor was actually part of a poem? She thought, and wrote:
The sky is peace, the earth is war.
The sky is whole, the earth is torn
The skies are blue, the earth is red.
The skies can sing, the earth is dead.
The skies are free, the earth is chained.
The sky is well, the earth is maimed.
The sky is hope, the earth is despair.
The sky is courage, the earth is fear.
The sky is reason, the earth is insanity.
The sky is divine, the earth is humanity.
She laughed, disgusted at her ability to make the earth seem like such a distasteful place. She found herself becoming pessimistic, and she disliked the feeling.
A few days later, a letter arrived in the mail. The girl had been curious at first, as it had been addressed to her. But then, she gasped, recognizing her grandfather's handwriting on the return address. She opened the paper envelope with shaking hands, and a single sheet of paper fell out of its cradle.
If the sky is peace, then what of the earth?
The girl read the first line on the letter, and smiled, remembering the question that she had asked her grandfather so long ago. Had he really answered it?
She continued to read.
The sky is a mirror, nothing more.
A mirror cannot create images of its own.
Neither can the sky.
If the earth is war, then the sky is war.
If the earth runs with red blood,
Then the sky runs with white tears.
I see no war.
If the earth is peace, then the sky is peace.
If the earth blooms with red flowers
Then the sky blooms with white clouds.
I see peace.
I see humanity, I see my people.
I see them do deeds that would warm the heart of an icicle.
I see sacrifices made to save others.
I see helping hands, reaching out to aid people
I see brave souls, making issues known to the world
The sky is peace.
It is peace, because the earth is peace.
It is peace, because of humanity’s peace.
The girl found tears coming to her eyes. She was sure there was an actual letter underneath the poem, but her vision was too blurry with tears to read the words. She cried, out of relief, out of grief, out of joy. She stumbled up to her room, and ripped up her own poem, letting the shreds of paper float to the ground. She understood. She finally understood the meaning of the phrase that had evaded her for so long.