We Shall See Face to Face

From everywhere his face, his malapportioned body. Unloved, he lacks language but not mother-wit; he understands that this worm of infinity, this endless mirrored coil, is meant to chastise him, meant to rebuke him for the unconscionable sin of bearing so flagrantly his father’s name.

They have gifted him a garden at the center, and there mercifully cloaked his reflection with rhododendrons, cashew trees, pepper plants, poison to one who lacks his mother’s placid digestion. There is a spot, just inside his filigreed gates — gates which have never closed, were never built to close — where he can spy the sunstruck hillside that holds his prison, dimly but faithfully reflected through the labyrinth’s undeceptive length.

Each year he waits for company.

They can none of them meet his gaze.

One by one, from the oldest to the youngest, they drop their eyes. Poor creatures, they cannot bear the weight of the god’s touch. He would go to meet them, if he could — there is but one path, after all — but one step nearer and they dissolve, and it is his own shape he sees and cannot bear. He flees, weeping, wrathful, to await their yearly coming.