THE HERMITFor Edward SaidHe stands outside the walls
with a torch. To the courtiers
his light is a novelty; something quaint
flickering like a distant star
amusing, at best, but often
trivial and dismissible. He stands there
in the rain, in the midst of wars
his beard grows long and white
his torch burning night and day.
The empire’s nobles and courtesans
occasionally remark on his perseverance
and almost always mock his passions. But
to us, the homeless peasants
his torch is an oracle
the beacon of survival
during the onslaughts of storm and pillage.
We gather around like moths
warm our eyes on his flames
thanking our goddesses and gods
that he’s here to shed light
on our forgotten lives. O, how
lost we’ll be without him.