XVII

The Duty of Man

 

The spot upon which Fensham stood pushed upwards from the black,

and water surged from all around, and was gradually ordered back.

Like a bird from the ashes, crying out to gods within its beak,

Fensham felt as the Benu, watching life from atop its peak.

 

The seas rolled back and rested, lapping duty-bound and good,

while sprouting upwards from the soil was life in breath and bud.

Bringing forth its own dependence, the earth renewed itself,

and Fensham gazed in wonder from his primordial shelf.

 

The water splashed in the distance, birthing forth its game,

and fish and fish-like creatures waited eagerly for Name.

Heavens retreated, the ground was completed

and trees and forests spread out and repeated

the first of their days for every day,

and every time in every way.

And it was then that Fensham thought to say,

‘Where do I come in this world this day?’

 

The wind took up like a spirit formulaic,

and blew ‘cross the land to create every prosaic

and commonplace breathing, moving thing.

But the wonder of it all made Fensham’s heart sing.

Never again could he look upon the world

as some ordinary thing as each day unfurled.

This was the stuff of magic made real.

No man of witness could fail it to feel.

 

The animals spread out in every direction,

asserting their territories with hope for protection.

And lastly, as hope appeared lost amidst nature,

the swirling dust-voice moulded one more creature.

 

A boy first was formed, whose sex was soon changed,

and changed back again as ageing arranged.

With its features distorted and the dust whipping ‘round,

Fensham’s quest for identity awaited to be found.

 

But it turned to him finally, this woman and man.

It looked at him, smiled and said, ‘Thou art our plan.’

And Fensham felt tears in his eyes as he knew

that the woman and man were of him right through.

 

‘Whether first or last, or one or two,

thou art part of creation and bound right through.

Thy duty is not to thyself or thy glory,

but to the world to which thou shalt return with this story.’

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