What Pegman Saw: Stones for the Dead

Madagascar by Cedric Bourges

Madagascar from Google Maps

Wood is for the living; stone for the dead. That’s the old way.

Yes, Papa, but if we keep chopping down trees and grubbing them up, there’ll be nothing left but the ancestral stones.

My boy, my boy, we honour our ancestors, we follow their ways. Would you have us dishonour them, have them bring plague or famine upon us?

No, Papa, no. But after two thousand years of our ancestors’ ways, what’s left for the living? Not for you, not for me, but there are other things here, alive and equally deserving.

And wood, my boy, is for the living, and stone for the dead. So, you answer me this: What is our reason for living, if not to honour those who went before us?

But, Papa, look! This is what’s left. Nothing. And now not even me, Papa. I’m leaving.

wordcount: 142

Written for What Pegman Saw

Wood is for the living, and stone for the dead: So said Malagasy archaeologist Ramilisonina to the British archaeologist Mike Pearson Parker on seeing Stonehenge during a visit to England after their many seasons of fieldwork together in Madagascar. As Mike Pearson Parker later reported, these words opened his eyes to the intrinsic nature of the megalithic monument and launched him into the most successful and thorough exploration of the surrounding landscape. To say I am in awe of Mike Pearson Parker, and through him Ramilisonina, is an understatement. I drool at their feet. And I’m sure Ramilisonina, whose life-work has been the study of the island’s prehistory, would not like to see all that he loves crumble because of an adherence to ‘the old ways’.

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
This entry was posted in History, Mostly Micro, Thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to What Pegman Saw: Stones for the Dead

  1. k rawson says:

    Haunting and powerful work, Crispina. Love the voice and the message of this very moving story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • crimsonprose says:

      I thank you. It’s something I feel strongly about. Not necessarily as it applies to Madagascar, but wherever people cling to the ‘old ways’ regardless of those ways serve them best


  2. Jen Goldie says:

    Love this ❤🌼

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joy Pixley says:

    A timely message about the need to rethink our traditional ways. Such strong urges to follow our ancestors, and yet ways that might have worked well in prior eras can be so destructive when scaled up to modern demographic levels. I hope this son returns one day to help make the change that he sees is necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Dale says:

    Beautifully done, Crispina. The old ways are not necessarily the best ways, are they?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. EntangledDesigns says:

    Love it! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well done, Crispina! Story and message, both! And some history on the side to boot. Fantastic. 🙂


  7. So good – so haunting, so real. It speaks not just to the temporal nature of our lives, but the need for reusable… well, reusable everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    • crimsonprose says:

      I thank you. And wood, of course, is renewable … so long as the soil isn’t leached by the subsequentalal agricultural. But what right have we to point fingers at those who eke out a living in fragile environments, when we are the descendants of those who destroyed the virgin forests of Eurasia.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Haunting and atmospheric Crispina, with an important message / question about when we should stick to the old ways and when we need to move on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think the old ways worked until there were too many humans practicing them. Thanks for such a poignant story.

    Liked by 1 person

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