Following the completion of my studies I set forth into the wilderness; where for seven decades I journeyed amidst the full breadth of man’s sorrows and elations.
Such travels afforded me a wealth of brilliant encounters, yet as I reflect, in these the days of my twilight, I find myself fixated on one in particular; a meeting staged many years ago, during my twenty-third year.
In my youth, my thirst for experience often led me to the more unforgiving regions of the wilderness; a landscape dominated by wide expanses of desert, semi-arid in nature, and home to only the most wretched of man’s sorrows.
I trekked for two and three-quarter days before my search bore fruit. I descended the rocky banks of the ravine, and hurried across its dusty riverbed, desperate to drink from the life-giving waters. My spirits rose as I dipped my head beneath the gentle outpouring of the desert spring, lapping the water with my swollen tongue as it poured down my sunburnt face.
Struggling to breathe, I stepped back from the grace of my saviour. And there, standing no more than a hundred steps before me, I spied a fellow traveller. I scampered behind a barricade of fallen rocks.
Aided by a staff the figure shuffled to the edge of the stream; its hollowed eyes fixed on the plenishing waters, its steps tortured and pained. Unnoticed, I watched as the wretched figure stood before the stream gazing at its reflection mirrored in flowing waters.
Her staff dropped to the ground, but her gaze remained steady upon the pool gathering at her mangled feed. Crippled beyond human proportions the creature strained to lower herself - but her efforts were futile.
Despair raised its withered head.
Time stood still as I met the face of absolute horror.
Worn like a mask carved from weatherworn willow I stood transfixed by its permanence, as if this disgusting expression was forever set upon the visage of this poor and pitiful creature. Suddenly, a twitch began to affect its cracked and bleeding lips.
No longer prepared to bare her suffering in silence, Despair cursed the waters.
The blood pooled in the canals of my ears, as I sought my retreat. But there was no escape, for the cry of Despair, once heard, is indelible.
published 18 June 2016