XIX

The Good Gift

 

His eyes were opened in more ways than one,

and Fensham rose slow to his feet.

Breath welcomed him warmly, as Breath had ever done,

and Death had suffered defeat.

 

The spirit stood before him, no features, no tells,

and Fensham felt no magic or trickery or spells:

‘Am I risen?’ he asked. ‘Or have I truly died?’

Or are both the same where life is untried?’

 

A warmth reached out from the spirit before him,

and enveloped him greatly as if to adore him:

 

‘If thy greatest fear be the end of thy days,

then make each day ‘til then for mending thy ways.

For e’er will thy sins come to gather their cost

and leave thee aware of thy humanity lost.’

 

Fensham, he pondered and thought a bit more,

of the life he had led and the nails in his door.

He imagined the closing of his coffin at dawn

and the empty space before which the wagon was drawn.

For who would truly mourn him? Who would shed tears

and pull at their hair and shred clothes and vent fears

of how terrible a world it would be without he?

 

No, thought Fensham, his death would bring measures of glee

to those he had punished and those he had tricked;

to those he would promise and then contradict.

 

Fensham felt shame and awareness of guilt.

This sharp realisation pierced his heart to the hilt

and he thought there and then that he would change his ways.

He imagined a Fensham who filled all his days

with righteousness and caring and human foresight.

But his motivation was still far from right:

 

‘Thou still thinkest of only thyself in thy heart.

To be truly kingly thou should be apart

from thy happiness and longing to be looked upon

as someone who is upright, and ever moved on

by the smiles of the Wanters and Takers and Thieves.

It is those who seem to have never achieved

more than merely making a passing of life

whom kingly commandments should rescue from strife.

And even should they stay bereft of reason,

thou wilt know thou art right with each passing season.

For not for his glory should a king be enthroned,

lest the glory of the kingdom be a glory postponed.

 

‘So now here we offer you life and a hope.

Go to The Vengeful King and bring your own rope.

Bow to him humbly and ask that he listen,

and hope that your evil has not taken his wisdom.’

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