Tears of Strengthbyjthserra©
Tears of Strength
From a distance I saw her gazing at a rose. I am not sure what caught my attention, perhaps the way she absorbed herself in the flower or maybe something else, something made her strangely alluring to me. She stood much shorter than me but seemed so proud, so tall. Her dark hair was straight and long, flowing over her shoulders like water. Her lips moved, as if she were chanting something. I listened, but could hear no discernible sound coming from her.
I looked at her lips; they were taut, but seemed to glisten, not from any lipstick that I could tell, it seemed purely natural. Her skin was faintly dark, with a slight hint of olive that seemed enhanced by her dark, dark hair. I couldn’t help but stare at her. In her I saw such a subtle beauty, a beauty that spoke not of makeup and fine salons, but a natural beauty, a native grace.
I wondered if she felt herself move as she gazed at the flower, a gentle swaying in an almost hypnotic dance. I wanted to say something to her, ask her what it was she chanted, what it was that captured her attention so. But as I moved to approach her, I noticed a sparkle on her face and I hesitated. A tear ran slowly, painting a line over her prominent cheekbone and then cascading down. A second tear followed the first, forming an odd glistening trail over her cheeks. Suddenly she started, and as if awakening from a trance, she shook her head, looked around, and quickly walked away. She caught my eye briefly as she left, then looked away and disappeared out the door. I wanted to follow her, to say… to say something to her, but I froze as the door slowly closed.
Curious, I walked to the flower that seemed to captivate her so. The blossom was a faint yellow, not very large like the other hybrid roses displayed here. Although small, the flower was oddly appealing. It lacked the perfectly formed and colorful petals the other roses had, next to them it appeared slightly faded. But looking closer, deep into the bud, there was a depth, a deep color that was only apparent when you looked closely. Wondering about this flower I looked closely at the tag displayed next to the flower. It was called the Cherokee Rose. I checked my brochure and read about the rose, about the plight years ago.
I heard the crying and I knew it was over. I watched her carry the limp body away from the trail. She knelt and wept but only for a moment. The soldier then prodded her onward with his rifle. It was nothing new, nothing different, this happened all along our long trek. Sometimes children, sometimes women or old men, and sometimes proud warriors were laid along the trail. But it was always the same, the same sobbing, the same creak of the wagons and the same dust of the trail as we walked and walked in the long line. We must have stretched out for miles, that long march. And more of us kept coming, different villages, different faces, we were all the same to them. We marched, and died.
Yes, it was always the same. The survivors, the strong, cried the tears, the weak died. The dust caked to the tears, forming muddy trails on our faces. Occasionally a tear would find its way to the ground, a slight dampness that was quickly absorbed in the dust. How quickly were we were absorbed, we became dust.
At night I heard just the sobs and the howling of the wind. In the freezing cold we wrapped ourselves in the few blankets the soldiers gave us. I saw the sick and dying, desperate for warmth, wrapped tightly, coughing and fighting for air. I remember my mother eyes. They were so hollow, dark and empty as they carried her to the edge of the trail and we left her behind. I remember how the mud clung to my face for days, as the wagons creaked and we walked.
I heard a soft cough and noticed some movement near me. I caught myself swaying and quickly dried the tear running down my cheek. I finished reading of the Cherokee Rose, how they grow in abundance along the long trail of the Cherokee from Georgia to Oklahoma. The Cherokee say that wherever a tear hit the ground along the trail, a rose grew: the Cherokee Rose.
I felt another tear run down my face and I quickly walked away. I recalled the beautiful lady; how the tears trailed over her Cherokee cheekbones and wondered if she grew roses. I wondered where her ancestor's tears planted roses along the long trail of tears.