Your voice reverberates through the empty town.

I wonder who you call for — a friend, a lover, a brother?

A thousand miles away an owl hoots in the blue of morning trees.

Your voice echoes in the emptiness where children once played and men shuffled cards on the street, where figs now drop to the ground unpicked, and the buildings are the colour of ash. Once this town was the green of olives and unripe figs, the green of spring grass before summer heat descends, and it was home to the tender, green shoots of Radio Fresh.

The emptiness is a black hole. After the echo of your voice dies there is only silence. No flutter of pigeons’ wings, not the scratching of a cat in the rubble, a dog bark, a car horn; not even the sound of the wind. Nothing remains but grey ash, the wreckage of buildings, shattered dreams, the loneliness of the broken.

An echo is a distinct, reflected sound wave from a surface. The distance travelled by the sound is doubled for echo. For example, if a sound wave takes ten seconds to travel to the bottom of the sea and back, the total distance travelled is 2d, where d is the depth of the sea. Hence, the velocity of the sound for echoes can be calculated by: v=Total distance travelled by soundTime taken=2dtv=Total distance travelled by soundTime taken=2dt.

You call one last time but your voice does not come home to you. It too becomes lost. What returns is the echo of gunfire. First, the muzzle blast. Second, the ballistic shock wave — the crack as the bullet flies through the air, traveling faster than the speed of sound. Third, the bullet piercing flesh. Fourth, the voices of moderation silenced. Fifth, the crying of loved ones left behind. Sixth, the prayers at the graveside. Seventh, the echo of the assassination reverberating around the world, perhaps forever.

The building which housed the radio station is bombed. No white noise or static remains; not even an echo. Just the quietness now.

The owl calls in the morning trees. How blue the light is when the owl calls.

Published in Spelk Magazine, May 2020


Photo: Agence France Presse

The home of writer Bronwen Griffiths