A Parable in Repose

The very old man sits up in his bed and turns his face toward his bedroom window, eastward to where the sun will come up if it ever comes. Only a gritty swash at the soul of the horizon suggests morning. The days bring a little trouble and good God knows what else.

The very old man gets out of bed and snatches a hefty cedar stick – bone white in the darkness of his bedroom. He dips the tip of it into a clay pot of oil by the door to the outer twilight. He then tips the stick into the little lamp by his door and starts a good torch fire. This, he thinks, will be the only light in the whole of the world this morning.

Rolling from the door to his house is a dusty path that peels out to the absolute of the horizon. If the sun rises, it issues from the vanishing point of the road itself. It is this road that the very old man walks now, one hand warmed by his torch, the other tucked into the rough folds of his robes to keep from freezing. The wind tosses about dust and sand and stones and ash and it tosses his great grey beard like tongues of flame.

From behind, a voice calls, “Father, it’s early.”

The very old man keeps walking and says nothing.

“Come back and sleep, Father. I’ll walk you there myself when it’s dawn.”

But the very old man has not slept in many months.

“He’ll not be there,” the boy mutters as the very old man strives away from the house out into the cold and the morning. (more…)

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