The Aphorisms of Kherishdar
M.C.A. Hogarth

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 living.


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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth