The Aphorisms of
ishan [ ee SHAWN ], (noun) . appreciation of fullness of a
thing's span, from its inception to its ending; implies that it is worthy
at every moment of its existence, and acknowledges that it is different in
the beginning from how it is at its peak and how it is at its end, and
that this too is part of its worth.
The honeyed light of early spring glowed
on the cream stone of the library. I entered the round building through
the great arch and into cool brown shadows and intimate spaces scented
with paper and leather and ink, an incense headier than a temple's. Near
the threshold I was greeted by a slim Ai-Naidari whose robes served to
anchor him; he was old enough to seem ethereal, the thin velvet of his
pelt worn almost to translucence.
"Seeking inspiration, Calligrapher?" he
asked in the grammar of caste-equals.
Though we were both public servants, I
bowed to him, in veneration for his wisdom and our long and enigmatic
association. We had known one another from before my elevation to the
public servant caste, when I found myself so drawn to the words and arts
of other Ai-Naidar that I would make pilgrimages here from the country,
where my family dwelt. "As always, Librarian."
He studied me with pale lavender eyes and
then laughed. "Go you to the insights of others, then."
And so I lost myself in the shelves, in
the scrolls and pages and parchments and maps, for to be a calligrapher is
not solely to paint words beautifully, but also to choose beautiful words.
I brought a stack to the garden in the center of the library, to the
sunlight and the delicate flower buds and the benches and tables there. I
read as the light blanched, until the shadows of the graceful arcs of the
trees crossed my spine... and still, I wrote nothing in my notebook, no
basis for a new aphorism, no new thought on what it was to be who we are.
As I closed the last book, the Librarian
took form from the light. "No food for the spirit, then?"
I shook my head. "Not today."
He smiled. "The day is young yet. The
temple of Shemena is having a dance of veils and blossoms."
I glanced at him.
"I'll reshelve the books," he said.
So I walked the gold streets of the
capital to the temple of the Maiden in the burnished light of a spring
afternoon, and there I found the priests dancing with the adolescents who
would soon be adults. And I laughed at their delight, and let the priests
coax me into spreading the flower petals, and learned something there
surrounded in the gaiety of youth, just as I had in the library at the
hands of the clear sight of age.
I went back to my studio then in the blue
light of evening; made a tea from tender leaves. I remembered the sight of
the coral-colored petals strewn on the blond stone of the temple stairs,
softer than new skin and yet already browning at the edges. And I found my
pen in my hand.
Wisdom begins in full
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth