Story Notes:Written circa 2004. Edited in 2009.
He greets all with shallow cheer
and an open, loving heart,
but not a soul regards
his words - they fall like dusky night
and break apart in shards.
His heart is on the table,
humbly offered to the one,
the single soul who would be able
to make his loneliness undone.
Yet it’s swept aside for the lovelier hearts upon
the table; laughing, shouting hearts,
until they all are gone,
leaving only his to be collected for the parts.
He’d speak if none were deaf to him.
He’d smile if none were blind to him.
How he wished they’d hear, wished they’d see
but if they did, still alone he’d be.
The hermit in the hills is I
and the light he holds aloft
is a shining beacon in the night
for to warn the fair folk off.
Each day, each hour for years and years
he lives his life alone,
never playing, never straying
from his grey and dusty home.
His back is bent with ages spent
out of sight of human eyes
for none had ever cared for him,
not a soul beneath the skies.
His hands are gnarled, twisted, aged,
his eyes are dulled, diseased.
But still his ears will strain to hear
salvation singing on the breeze.
The silence keeps him company
with gossip far and wide.
Sullenly, with lips drawn thin,
he looks about with eyes,
ever moping, ever hoping, hands still groping for a sign
that folk have not forgotten the hermit in the hills,
that they think of him every now and then,
wond’ring if he’s up there still.
And in his ancient, cobwebbed mind,
to himself he sometimes thinks:
is there anybody out there
who would come to rescue me?
But the truth is soon made clear
as naught but shadows gather near,
a dying, lonely, old man’s fear:
The Darkness, silent, cold and drear.
And the bitterness of loneliness
ate slowly through his soul,
rotting out what once was good,
now a blackened, ugly hole.
Alone, alone, he finally died.
No one gathered in his wake.
By the hollow world he was survived-
nothing else was left to take.