In an Ancient Land

Somewhere, long ago,
in an ancient, rocky land,
there was an old man
warming himself by a fire.

He was alone.

The world he knew
had died � his world:
the people he loved, gone,
the children playing
in his village, gone,
the village itself, gone.

Only the sun remained,
and the wind and moon and sea,
and the rocky ground
that led down to the sea.

His only companion was his fire.

He ate his olives
and his cheese,
but the ritual
brought no comfort.

He sang, but no one heard.

He waited, dreamed, remembered,
wondered, mourned, beseeched,
and then he began again,
and again and again began,
until at last he decided
he must be a ghost,
a spirit granted no rest
and fated to suffer.

The old man wept,
and as he wept,
the centuries settled
like dust around him,
quietly hiding his pain.

Then, from a great distance,
he heard a voice:
it belonged to a child,
and the child was saying
Papa, come home.

Startled by the sound,
the old man looked up
into the eyes
of his grandchildren,
a boy and a girl
not yet ten years old.

Come on, Papa. Come on:
they took him by the hand.

A kiss, a kiss.

And the ancient land
was young again,
the fire, burning on.

February 24, 2006

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