being at war with a picture of war

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Pain made a landscape. It was blue, blotchy. The animals knew. Pain does not contain itself. They abandoned the land.

The center of the pain was nearly black, like deep liquid. It had given so much–whole cities were bright at night because of it–yet it demanded nothing back. This made it easy to keep taking from the pain, expanding it beyond what could ever be managed.

People in the bright cities made money on the pain. It wasn’t their pain; it belonged to the government of a South American country and was a sign of that government’s corruption. If the pain could be seen from space: that was the fault of one government’s greed (and not that of many private investors). Yet it isn’t even greed, being the way people have allowed themselves to behave.

The pain was soft, feminine from a distance. It was silent and mysterious where forest obscured its farthest parts. Somehow it must have brought about the force that maintained it. Does that make sense? Cyclical nature might have its counterpart in circular logic. City planning submerges a stream bed, yet the stream surges in the rainy months, flooding yards and damaging the asphalt. And so the repaving project to push it back.

Where does force come from? It might seem like a substance; from above you see it spread like a bruise. We say it’s used, yet it has no structure. It passes through us and enacts chemical damage. Think of cancer, think of a map of its expansion through us.