North

It’s a revolution they speak of,
but the hem of his robes continue to stay
an inch above the ground.

They always will, he thinks,
so long as the ground beneath him stays
beneath him, solid and sound
and tied to the spinning world.

It’s been a hard battle, he knows,
but these halls have stood and stayed
when the walls were burning
white and ashen, embers resound-
ing echoes of screams and

Hail Mary full of grace. This,
he thinks, as his robes swish and sway
bounding off the cobblestones
down and through and around
the myriad halls, is not the Crusades.
This is the death of martyrs and saints.

He falters, tries to catch his breath,
and leans heavily on a bust of a man slain
years ago in a fit of misunderstanding.
Power, he knows, lies in the hands of they
who seek to destroy that which amounts
to be a square peg for a round hole.
He can feel the first of many stinging

saline worries gently trace a path from
his eyes to his chin. His feet keep moving him away
from the doors of his cell to the doors
of the man who calls himself father.
Father. He repeats the word over and around
in his mouth. He can’t quite get used to the feeling
of it. Fa-ther. It has always been this way, he knows,
but every day the word seems more and more foreign.

Father, he says as he pries open
the solid oak doors, feeling the solid oak weight
of the words about to reach his lips.
My son, you are troubled.
He wonders why it is that Father could see, always see,
straight through to the other side of him.
You, Father, are correct.
He stammers. He pauses. He clears his throat.
The Father watches and waits,

knowing that patience is one of his gifts.
I have to leave.
Father, a protected shepherd of his flock,
seems to know this.
We all must, I suppose,
begin to walk our own paths
down our own streets,
under our own guidance.
What it is you do while you are
following your compass rose
is up to you.
Remember, my son,
that the point always faces north.

North, his cardinal direction.
For the first time, he sees the Father as a man.
He sees his aging eyes.
He sees his greying hair.
He hears the rasp of a man who had borne
the weight of a thousand prayers in his own
throat.

He is breathless again and the
urge to fight back his final vows
would soon overtake him.
He turns, his hem an inch above the ground,
knowing that it always would be,
and leaves.

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