The Aphorisms of
tsekil [ tseh KEEL ], (adjective) -- sick; refers only to
"Our lord is sick," the noble said,
and added, "Speak."
"How did it begin?" I asked, my
eyes focused politely on the House marking on her stole. She was our
lord's sister, the quick wit and sharp edge to her brother's gentleness.
"He has been out too often," she
said. "Surveying all that must be done in the district and conferring with
others whose districts are unsettled. His mind is disordered... he
broods." She sighed. "You are one of his favorites, Calligrapher. Heal his
I bowed to her, deeply, and told
her what was needed.
The following morning, with a
parcel beneath my arm, I walked to my lord's seat. There a somber
conducted me to a perfect room: round with a golden wood
floor and a high, windowed dome, intended for guests to withdraw and
gather breath... a fitting space for my lord's new sanctuary. I unfolded
my parcel, revealing brush and ink, rulers and compass, varnish and
a slim book of wisdom tales. Earlier I had read the one I planned
to paint, and with its words still sounding in my spirit I began marking
the circles with the compass.
An hour later I tied up my
sleeves and set aside my over-robe, then knelt and began, painstakingly,
to scribe on the wood, working outward in a spiral pattern.
Philosophy floors are rare, for it
requires great skill to maintain their symmetry and beauty from center to
edge. I have not often had the opportunity to create one... and for such a
cause as my lord's health! The honor of it steadied my hand where it might
otherwise have trembled.
As I was varnishing the day's work,
a shadow fell over my back and stretched across the wood. I knew the
silhouette and sat back on my heels, resting my hands on my knees... but
my lord said nothing.
We continued this pattern as I
worked my way slowly around the spiral toward the floor's rim. My back
grew sore and my hands cramped, but the floor bloomed beneath my brush, a
thing of artistry and gentle words, and each day my lord came and stayed
I painted the last letter on a
sunny day and packed my parcel. There I abided in silence as the light
from the high windows moved across the warm wood and dark ink. When the
familiar shadow fell across the words, I closed my eyes and waited,
listening to the hiss of silk as he paced the circumference of the room.
He halted at the center of the floor, near the aphorism I had scribed as
my last task, and there was silence.
Rest your eyes on what is divine and
good, for you become what you contemplate.
Then I felt his touch on my
shoulder. He spoke no words; he needed none. We were both healed by our
communion over the philosophy floor and the message at its heart.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth