The god he does not believe in has never been more absent.
It is not like the time when he thought he saw his father, who had been dead for 20 years, standing in his kitchen in the middle of the night.
But something has grown restless and turned back …
It is nothing he could impart, nothing that even has a name. But the gnaw is enough to tear notches into the strong hearts of oaks rooted forever to the floor of the world.
Clipping old roses from the garden brings him to tears. The skin is mottled not from affliction but from cruelest design. His escaping finger forgets, for a moment, that bones tether it to other bones.
His face is dismal even for a frog’s. Even for an idiot’s. Or a dead emperor’s. His library is but a burnt offering to the man he believes he is believed to be.
He would fear mangling the next grounder, too …
But that suggests an order, a composition, where surely none survives.