A shadow passes over a valley between desert and mountain.
A feather falls from the clear sky on a patch of dirt.
A lady named Anahita walks down from the mountain.
She sees the feather and picks it up.
From the spot the feather had lain, Anahita notices moist soil.
With graceful hands, the soil and mud is removed.
From her toil, a trickle of water creeps from the roots of the mountain.
Thirsty, Anahita drinks from the bubbling brook.
Refreshed and pleased with the stream, the lady walks away.
The stream grows, glittering under Mehr's halo.
Anahita's gift catches sixty eyes of birds.
Weary from travel, they lay down their burdens for some respite.
Seeds of the earth are their treasures.
They drink what the mountain gives.
Refreshed, they fly away leaving behind their treasures.
They forget in their haste the gifts for their king.
From seeds sprout herbs and grasses, making pasture from a patch of dirt.
Following a goat path, a girl and boy come across the pasture.
Seeing the herbs they gather them among stones and flowing water.
The girl looks into the brook while the boy pulls grain from his pocket looking at a stone.
He hands his friend some, starts eating the grain, and crouches by the stone.
The girl looks at the moist soil and puts the grain within it.
While she plants, the boy carves marks on the stone.
The girl looks at the marks and smiles at the boy.
They walk back along the goat path hands clasped tight.
On the stone is written, ‘Life is good.’
The grains grow among the herbs and flowers.
The stream continues on from the roots of the mountain.
A man leads a cow from the desert.
He is thirsty, lost, leaving behind a life in search of another.
The cow sees the pasture and brook and leads the man towards the mountain.
The cow eats herbs and grain while the man lies on the green carpet listening to the water.
He sees the stone with writing on it and smiles.
From his pocket he splits a pomegranate for supper.
He feeds himself all but one ruby, which he feeds to the earth.
In his fatigue, he falls asleep to the scent of fresh grass and is happy.
He wakes up to stars wrapped in darkness so that none of the life around him is visible.
“Travelers may come after me. Light is needed for them to see the splendors of this place.”
The man builds a small altar from the carved stone and places upon it a small bronze bowl.
From the safety of his satchel, he places a small ember within the bowl.
Nestled among tinder and dried leaves from the pasture, the ember brightens.
A small flame grows as the man leads his cow away saying,
“In darkness one must have some light or the right path shall be hidden.”
So in the night the pasture is lit by a small flame.
In the day a large flame shines on the pasture.
In day and night a pomegranate seed becomes a sapling by constant light.
A wind from the desert keeps the flame of the bowl small.
Stones from the mountain roll onto the herbs and flowers.
A king atop a horse with a bow in his hand and truth on his lips enters the pasture.
He sees beauty in this place and rests a while.
His horse eats and he walks among the pasture pondering.
He smiles at the writing on the altar, but frowns at the flame.
“Why is the flame in the bowl so small and the plants so close to the stream not growing large?”
He hears the whistling of the wind in his ears while stumbling over a stone.
The king curses the stone and wind saying, “Wind you distract me. Stones you cause me pain.”
Then seeing the plants and the flame he understands.
“I see, the flame shall be large if it is protected from the wind.”
“You stones, you crush the land and flowers when not stable.”
The king gathers the stones and places them one upon the other.
Mud from the stream and sweat from the brow hold the stones together.
Surrounding the pasture, a small wall is built by the king.
He places some tinder in the bowl and leaves.
Wind passes over and around the wall, so the flame brightens.
Stones from the mountain add to the wall below, so the plants grow larger.
With shelter, the pasture becomes a lush garden.
With light the pomegranate grows up and down.
Night falls and the light of the flame faintly touches all within the wall.
Eastward, struts a group of drunken men led by one with horns on his head.
Seeing the glow of the flame they wander towards it.
The horned man in his intoxication stumbles over the wall.
Upon seeing blood trickle from a gash in his knee he screams.
“Who dares put obstacles in my path? How dare this place make a god fall!”
In his rage he kicks at the wall, bringing sections tumbling down.
He draws his sword at the pomegranate tree, hacking it to the base.
He howls at the flame that shows his face as that of a demon.
With a clenched fist he knocks the bowl of fire to the ground.
The embers bring the grass smoldering down low.
As the light fades he looks at the writing on the altar.
With arrogance dripping from his pores, he uses his blood to write on the altar.
“Haha, I say who challenges that! Onward men!”
The horned man continues to strut into the desert.
His men are left by the stream, yelling and singing.
Laughter quickly turns to murderous screams.
Some men run for their lives, others fight with all their might.
As dawn approaches each man soberly limps away, each in his own direction.
The sun shows one remaining, gazing at the garden laid to waste.
From his mouth, he draws the pit of an olive and places it beneath the soil.
He sees the revised saying on the broken altar among trampled flowers, herbs, and grains.
He clicks his tongue while staggering away.
A seed buried among damaged plants shall not overtake those with deep roots.
The olive grows but the grasses return, the flowers bloom again, and the grains ripen.
Though shattered to pieces, the pomegranate is strong.
Its roots run deep, its essence is vigorous.
Even the severed branches root and grow up faster than the olive.
Actions meant to destroy the pomegranate make ten new ones.
In the shade of the pomegranate, the olive is stunted.
It grows no taller, but remains a part of the garden, beautiful but humbled.
A chieftain of the Parni walks by the garden.
He shakes his head at the sight.
“Such a mess, this garden lacks a gardener worthy of it.”
He walks through a collapsed section of wall.
Stones are strewn about but the foundation is intact.
He drinks from the stream and is quenched.
He eats of the herbs and grains not completely burnt or trampled.
Finding that their taste is still delicious he is pleased.
“Such good earth does not need a master gardener. I will help this paradise.”
This man called Ashkan works hard.
He restores the walls such that they hold firmly against mountain and wind.
He waters the pomegranates such that they grow swiftly.
The ground becomes as green as the cloak he wears.
Among the pomegranates he plants new olives such that they become natural in the garden.
To the altar he brings water from the river.
With his sleeve red letters melt away and words of stone emerge.
From under ash, the chieftain pulls embers burning bright.
With fresh tinder, the flame burns again from the bronze bowl atop the stone altar.
With his work done he admires the simple beauty of his work.
“I am no bad gardener. Look life comes back to this place like a ewe to her lamb.”
He watched insects flutter in the grass and birds land in the trees.
“I shall invite my brothers and cousin to enjoy this place with me.”
As evening approaches Ashkan leads his six brothers and a cousin.
As the eight enter the garden, they are amazed at the plump grain and fruits.
They sit on lush grass picking herbs listening to birds sing.
As night approaches they sit by the light of the altar.
“Brothers and cousin life is good. This garden is good.”
They nod in agreement for it was true.
“I am not a master gardener but this is a master garden.”
Many nod, while some remain silent but a son of Sasan speaks.
“Cousin, this is no master garden. You have done well but not excellent.”
For a moment, only the voice of the flame can be heard.
“Cousin, why do you criticize my work? Can you not see the splendor of this place?”
All eyes watch the cousin of the seven as he speaks.
“There is splendor in this place, but not because of you.”
“You have only rebuilt what an ancient gardener started.”
The chieftain of the Parni becomes angry and shouts at faces lit orange and red.
“My cousin insults my work and my brothers defend me not. Karen what do you think?”
“Brother your work has created a beautiful garden.”
The brothers Suren and Ispahbudhan shake their heads saying, “No the garden deserves better.”
The night is filled with curses and debates of eight in conflict.
Morning brings about a new gardener while seven cousins listen intently to his suggestions.
“Cousins let us give this place a better garden. Suren bring stones and mud.”
“Mihran go fetch seeds that will touch the sky.”
Commands are given and seven brothers work.
They make the walls tall and firm so that mountain and desert cannot enter.
They plant seeds of noble stock and water the garden with the sweat of man and mountain.
As seven labor one stands before the altar.
The cousin gathers stones to carve.
Cut slabs of mountain flesh are made servants of the written stone.
Upon their shoulders the written stone sits so that the whole garden can see it.
“Your crown is too small so your glory cannot light the whole garden at night.”
The son of Sasan places upon the carved stone a large basin of silver.
From it the embers of the old fire ensnare new kindle.
The flames are so bright that night cannot hamper the work of the eight.
Two suns shine upon a garden like no other.
High walls invite vines but keep wind and rock away.
Through a gate arched like a bow flows a stream.
Behind the gate within the walls of stone, mortar, and leaves a green carpet awaits tired feet.
Herbs and grain mingle under low hanging fruits.
Cypress trees peek over the walls to taunt the world outside paradise.
Eight enjoy the master garden in the light of two suns.
But a day cannot last forever.
At twilight the earth roars and the mountain trembles.
Eight gardeners argue what to do.
“We must leave or these tall walls shall crumble on our heads!”
A son of Sasan begs the seven to help him hold up the walls.
Seven brothers abandon their cousin for the desert.
“My garden, I cannot die at the walls or this garden shall lose its caretaker.”
The cousin flees through the gate.
Outside the garden the darkness envelops him.
Lost he knows not which direction to go but the desert knows.
With a whirlwind the desert blows away a son of Sasan.
The earth quiets and footsteps are heard from the desert.
Two pious bandits look through the cracks of the walls.
Abu opens the gate and enters with a trail dust from his course cloth.
Behind walks Omar eying hungrily at the garden.
The former carries a sack, the latter a book.
The one gathers spoils from the ground and branches.
The other walks with squinted eyes towards the altar.
“This flame is unnecessary when the moon is out.”
Abu kicks the basin scattering the flame to the ground.
Hot embers hide under ash and the garden darkens.
A crescent moon hovers as the glint of silver catches Omar’s eyes.
Without thinking he grabs the basin only to burn his hands.
“Patience Omar, the flames will die and the heat will pain you no more.
With hands cooked the bandit goes back to gathering fruits.
Abu stands gazing and smiling at the moon.
“This light is quieter, more predictable. It will not burn for it is not lively.”
His smile disappears when the loyalty of the embers still shines on the carved stone.
He looks down at the phrase etched in permanent defiance.
With ink still dripping from the Word of God, he corrects the phrase.
“Life is submission.”
Two bandits leave the garden and do not close the gate.
One carries a book and the other carries a full sack on his shoulder and a basin in his hand.
The flowers are plucked, the herbs picked, and the fruit snatched.
But the plants do not submit, for their roots are too deep and the water so near.
The bounty of the garden revives but the gate is open to wild beasts.
The animals of the wild descend upon the paradise and make it their own.
Some graze, others pick, and some eat the grazers and pickers.
The garden does not die from their presence but thrives.
Animals fight for branches and corners to call their own but still the garden grows.
Grass climbs towards the sun, trunks thicken, and bounty multiplies.
The vines spread covering the walls and encasing the altar.
A man, as poor as a peasant but greater than a king, walks along a goat path.
He sees a city of trees surrounded by walls of stone and leaves.
He enters through a gate so rusted it cannot be closed.
The man’s ears and eyes are amazed by the raw splendor of this ancient place.
Towards a pillar of vines he strolls with bare feet cooled by the grass.
He steps on a pile of ash and feels heat.
With curiosity driving like a shepherd sheep, he discovers a treasure of bright embers.
They shine so that the altar hidden in the shadow of the leaves reveals itself.
“I see words meant to be read.”
The man pulls away the vines so that they cannot recapture the stone slabs.
Freed from the vines the man reads ‘Life is submission.’
“Wait but there is more is see, hidden beneath this black ink.”
With spit on his fingers he wipes at the ink but it fades only a little.
Still the word below the ink is recognizable by the light of the embers.
“I cannot let this be lost to the vines.” If travelers see it they shall protect it.”
He places the embers in a little ceramic bowl he took from his satchel.
Looking for a place that wild beasts would not knock the bowl over, he searches the garden.
In a shaded corner not claimed by any beast and near the altar, the man places the bowl.
With some tinder, a small flame makes the carved phrase visible and the man smile.
He picks a flower and leaves.
In the shade of a pomegranate, the little embers endure.
Fed by falling leaves and branches it burns but does not grow.
Ashes slowly protect and suppress the embers.
The embers do not die but cannot thrive.
The vines do not return to the altar but time wears away the written stone.
Stone lasts but so can ink and so both fade together.
The struggle of beasts continues and the garden continues to prosper.
Evening comes to the garden.
Three men with honeyed words seek the beginning of a stream.
They seek good soil for their plants.
Coming to the source of the stream, they relax in paradise.
With nightingales as their minstrels, they sit laughing, drinking, and musing.
They come across a curious collection of smooth stones.
Feeling the surface of the highest stone, strange marks rub against finger tips.
The three look at the markings.
“I believe this says ‘Life is…good, I think.”
“No can’t you see the inked word ‘submission.”
“Well you are both right and wrong. But one is more right than wrong. Life is good.”
They stare at the written stone in silence musing on the two phrases.
One man says, “Bah, ‘Life is submission.’ I say life is love.”
“Life is self awareness,” says another.
“And I say,” yells the third, “Life is wine!”
They all start laughing and walk to different areas of the garden.
From their pouches they plant a rose root, a narcissus bulb, and a grape vine.
Merry, they leave the garden following the stream to its end.
The scent is fresh, meat and plants.
A howl echoes from the mountain.
A blue wolf and fallow doe race like demons under a pale moon.
No light protects the garden as animals sleep away from one another suspicious of each other.
In the shadow of the gate eyes gaze at the weak.
The blue wolf rushes into the garden with growls and teeth.
Beasts fight in vain or attempt flight looking for a way out.
Red follows the blue as beasts fall to the scourge.
Screams of horror fill the wild beasts as they run out the gate with the wolf close behind.
Among herbs and corpses a hungry doe feasts.
Nothing sakes her appetite.
Grass is eaten to the stump, branches are cleaned of leaves.
Grain and flowers are devoured.
The fallow doe leaves behind a wasteland with too much red and not enough green.
The garden is devastated but resourceful.
New shoots emerge from the stumps.
The trees push out new leaves to replace the lost.
The rose defiantly blooms.
Animals return but still compete for space in the spacious paradise.
As the raid of the doe and wolf passes to memory a hunter follows the tracks.
A man like iron with a soul like a devil prepares for the hunt.
He limps on his right leg and holds a sword with a right hand lacking two fingers.
He plans to take as many trophies as possible.
He studies the rusted gate and the cracked walls crumbling under the vines.
The khan lights torches and sharpens his sword.
With the strength that blood lust bestows, the man slams the gate shut.
The animals in the groves and thickets begin to stir fearful of another hunt.
Torches fly over the wall landing among brush and dead wood.
Flames consume the trees and dry grasses killed by the fallow doe.
The beasts fearful of the blue wolf run around madly trapped with their garden.
The iron man smashes down the walls crushing beasts and brush beneath stone and mortar.
With sword in hand he slashes and stabs everything in sight.
Plant and animal fall under his blade.
From a distance the city of trees seems like a column of smoke.
Trapped some fierce beasts fight back.
Blood from animal and man drench the crushed smoldering grass.
Many fight but few defeat the devil man.
Surrounded by corpses, the iron leaks molten metal.
Tusks and claws have weakened him but he is satisfied with a mountain of skulls.
From two corners a black ram and white ram appear.
Cornered they stand firm against the lame warrior.
With rage and fear like wind at the back, the black ram charges at the man.
Weakened but not weak, the iron man grabs at the horns of the black beast.
Both are strong, they struggle against one another.
The man is exhausted from the carnage of his three fingered hand.
With great strength the black ram throws the hunter at a wall.
Before the black ram takes his prize, his white rival attacks.
Two rams battle on corpse, ash, and mud.
The hunter watches smiling but cannot get up.
Horns locked the two rivals glare at one another.
Both back away to opposite walls with faces looking down and horns facing out.
They race at one another at full speed.
The black ram, tired, trips to the ground.
Before he can stand, he is smashed by his foe.
The white ram stands triumphant over the fallen looking at the weakened.
He sees the iron man stand and both just gaze at each other.
To fight on would mean death to both.
Instead they leave through great holes in the walls.
One heads for the mountain, and the other for the desert.
Much is gone from this paradise lost.
All is ash, ash in a bowl and ash within some walls.
The walls are not high, but low mounds of rubble.
The trees are charred and the ground is gray.
The desert sends wind and the mountain sends stone.
No animals remain for the land is all but dead.
But ash gives nutrients to the soil.
From ash the phoenix can appear.
So the seeds and bulbs begin anew.
The trees though stunted send up new shoots.
They defy wind and mountain o recapture the sky.
A man wearing Haydar’s crown walks from the mountain.
Through a broken archway, he steps in solemn triumph.
No rusted gate remains, to be opened.
The man with a red hat steps on a patch of dirt.
His boots are covered with the blood of ram and khan.
Below the boots small green leaves are visible.
To the altar he makes his way seeing beyond what is to what was.
He reads ‘Life is good’ and the faded ink word ‘submission.’
“Hmm I say Life is both.”
Beneath the carved phrase, the man who would be king carves another.
He sets out patching the walls though they are much shorter than times past.
He waters the trees and grasses so that green returns to the patch of dirt.
As he works, he mutters with strained breath two phrases.
“Life is good. Life is submission.”
Both together give him strength and from his strength a garden returns.
The branches of trees show off their prizes.
The grape vines become laden with clusters.
The roses and narcissus bloom again.
The stalks of grains droop under the burden of plenty.
Such splendor protected only by low walls draw the eyes of the enemy.
At night by the light of the moon he chases away beasts lurking beyond the walls.
Some areas he cannot keep them at bay.
Worst of the beasts is the bear of the north and gray wolf of the west.
Outside the walls the roar of a lion can be heard.
In corners they make dens hidden in shadow.
Along the walls under groves of cypress and olive they wait for the man to leave.
The man looks for them hoping the animals will stay put.
Content with his work, but tired, the man wearing Haydar’s crown leaves.
As he exits, darkness consumes him for he knows these beasts are not content.
The animals emerge from groves and burrows to conquer the garden once more.
They trample the flowers to devour the grain.
They gorge on fruits while breaking branches.
Bear and wolf eye each other suspiciously, while the smaller animals scurry to take much loot.
With steps like an earthquake, a son of a herdsman approaches the den of beasts.
Once his mother and he were slaves, but now he seeks to master all before him.
Madness and genius struggle for his mind.
He wishes to drive out the beasts with fire and sword.
With the cunning of the blue wolf and the viciousness of the lame man, he enters the garden.
Behind the walls howls of pain can be heard.
Over the walls leap the gray wolf and northern bear.
Other beasts submit and are tamed.
Before long the burrows are empty and the dens destroyed.
The son of a herdsman settles down in the shade of pomegranate.
Though both body and mind are tired he cannot relax.
He drinks from the stream but is not quenched.
He eats the grapes, olives, and herbs but is not satisfied.
The garden begs him to garden but he would rather hunt.
Such a mind could garden as a master but he cannot settle.
“I shall expand this garden into the wilds beyond the wall.”
He breaks down walls to claim land he cannot turn to pasture.
He believes hunting and gardening are one, so the garden suffers.
With no wild beasts to be found, the mad man turns on his tamed ones.
He beats them and looks for any signs of wildness in their eyes.
One by they are hunted. One by one they rebel.
The man in a fever of fear and insanity tries to sleep in the night.
In the darkness of the night the howl of a gray wolf and roars of bear and lion are heard.
The tamed creatures creep in the darkness to take revenge.
Tyranny is born in blood and dies in blood.
With fangs like a sword, a beast stabs the son of a herdsman.
With the hunter gone the animals reign again in chaos.
The land has suffered and struggles to revive.
From behind the low walls, six savage eyes watch the men.
Still licking their wounds they wait.
A Vakil, a man named Ahmad, and a eunuch enter the garden.
The animals hearing the three scatter to corners and burrows.
Rivals they go to different areas of the garden.
The Vakil looks with sadness at the state of his patch of dirt.
With gentle hands he brings water to his plants.
He gardens like a parent cares for a sick child.
The land under this guardian revives and becomes green.
The Vakil passes the altar and smiles in approval.
Ahmad passes the altar but neither smiles nor frowns at the carved phrases.
He drives out beasts more than he gardens.
A soldier from the mountain, he is far better at fighting.
But between hunting he gathers some water for the trees and grasses.
The eunuch is not interested in gardening.
A bandit by profession, he scours his corner of the garden in search of spoils.
Undeserving of the bounty his garden tries to provide, he takes without giving back.
He does not even see the altar.
Of three the best is gone.
He leaves his land lush and thriving.
The bandit without seed takes control of the Vakil’s toil.
The eunuch and the soldier called Ahmad remain.
Neither have patched the walls or fixed the gate.
Instead the eunuch plants poppies and the soldier continues to hunt.
Three beasts watch two poor gardeners in a garden losing its luster.
They are covetous of the stream and flowers, groves and grains.
The gray wolf and northern bear have healed their wounds.
Old rivals, they have fought outside the garden before.
A new beast comes in search of land.
A lion born from the sea looks at the wolf and bear with suspicion.
Opposite of each other, they begin a great game.
In a flash of light five fight for the prize.
As wolf fights eunuch, bear fights soldier and lion.
Though strong the soldier cannot fight two giants and flees.
The lion and bear collide with teeth and claws.
In their battle, seeds of a terrible plant fall from their matted fur.
Beneath their paws, the seeds are planted.
The bandit, intoxicated by grape and poppy cannot stop the wolf.
He abandons some garden in the hope the wolf will be satisfied.
He begins to rest thinking he is safe.
Then while grabbing some poppy the bear charges at him.
He struggles but he cannot defend so much land.
The bear takes much of the garden for his own.
The eunuch has not much left.
“Perhaps, the bear hurt the lion so I may take that area for myself.”
Sword in hand he marches towards a grove to flush out the lion.
Into the grove he walks with confidence.
Out of the grove he flees for his life.
The lion is strong, stronger and swifter than the bear.
The man weakened and broken holds only the heart of the garden.
No beast moves against him for fear of retaliation from the other animals.
Thus the garden divides.
In the darkness the bandit shivers in fear at the roars and howls.
Pale moonlight shines on the altar with a humbled man before it.
His tears shine as he looks at the written stone.
He shakes his head looking at his small patch of dirt.
“Life is bad.”
If a soil is devastated it can only grow weeds.
If a plant is torn away by the roots, survival is hard.
Under heavy feet little can grow.
From the battered soil of the garden, a new plant emerges.
It is different in that it cannot coexist with other plants.
It is a thorny vine.
The vines grow fast and constrict the herbs, grains, and trees.
The pomegranates are stunted and the roses are smothered.
This plant grows on and between the stones of the wall.
As its branches thicken, the wall falls apart.
Between the domains of the eunuch and the three beasts, the weed thrives.
Hedges of thorns separate what once was whole.
Where there was one garden, there are dozens.
The bear and lion thrive in the weed for it gives them cover when hunting.
The wolf at first benefits too but soon the vines overwhelm him and is driven away.
The domain of the wolf is lost to the lion and bear.
The bandit without seed tries to keep the weeds at bay.
The weed cannot be stopped because it is vigorous in the absence of vigilance.
A battered man leaves bloodied by thorns.
A great trembling shakes the mountain and desert.
The earth cracks between flower and thorn.
From the bowels of hell, noxious fumes emerge.
To the bear and lion it smells like perfume.
Demon’s blood bubbles from the cracks.
It seeps into the stream making blue water black.
The lion and bear taste it and become addicted.
In their obsession they claw at the plants trying to rise.
A Cossack and his son enter a wilderness.
Through thorns and groves they reach the center.
Even surrounded by hedges the heart is still beautiful.
There are still fruits and grasses though smaller and shorter.
The father and son walk up to a stack of stones scarred and worn.
Upon them two phrases still stand.
Beside this battered altar a black pool shimmers.
The father looks at the pool when growls fill his ears.
Over the hedges he sees a lion and bear with bloodshot eyes.
They lick their lips at demons blood.
Crazed, the beasts may charge at anytime.
With a cup the father scoops up some black gold.
He sends the liquid over the hedge to the hungry beasts who fight over the small amount.
He laughs while the son touches the carvings.
“Life is good,” says the son.
The father nods his head.
“Life is submission”
The father dips his hand into the black pool.
With hands dripping, he wipes the demon blood over the second phrase.
He looks at his son, “Life is not submission.”
Within the hedges of this little garden a father tries to cut back weeds.
As he works the two beasts watch.
Occasionally they leave to cross the mountain or desert.
The Cossack looks over the hedges desiring what past gardeners worked on.
But the beasts return to stop his wishful thinking.
He satiates them with more demon blood and they become tame as pets.
If he holds back even a drop, they become savage as devils.
While the father satisfies monsters, the son picks flowers.
Among herbs, thorns, and an old pomegranate tree he finds a small bowl.
Under ash he finds a small ember just barely alive.
With tinder, the ember grows to a small flame.
As it burns, the son’s mind burns with the splendor his garden shall be.
Beyond the hedges he sees mounds of stone entangled in thorns.
“I shall rip up the weeds and rebuild the wall.”
A strong wind blows from the desert.
A great storm is coming.
The bear and lion are bloody and fearful.
A fearsome foe rides the wind.
It has red eyes, white feathers, and black talons.
The black gold gives strength to any who devour it.
The bear and lion beg for more.
The Cossack is defiant before their desperation.
He hopes they shall be driven away.
Desperation is not weakness for those with teeth and claws.
Swiftly the beasts strike hard at the father.
He flees through thorn and stone, covered with black blood.
The animals guzzle their desires, while the son watches fearfully.
Strengthened they look to the sky for their foe.
In the sky two eagles battle.
Below hedges grow taller.
When night comes, complete darkness covers the once lit garden.
The great storm covers the light of sun and moon.
The winds wreck trees and herbs.
A son of a Cossack takes shelter under a pomegranate tree holding a small flame.
A king waters his garden with demon’s blood.
Around him watch a bear dripping in red, a lion, and an eagle.
The eagle and bear glare at one another while the lion eyes the black pool.
The king tends the grains but they are slowly dying.
Concerned he gives them more black gold.
“This is strength, why are you not lush and green?”
He looks to the eagle who nods in approval.
Occasionally the king gives a cup to the beasts that drink savagely.
As he works, he repeats the phrase carved into the altar.
Upon the altar is a ceramic bowl with a flame.
“Life is good. Life is good.”
A doctor of gardening approaches the king.
He steps on a black carpet before the king.
Before speaking he sees the written stone and smiles.
Above the writing crackles a fire fed with demon’s blood.
The doctor frowns looking at sparks fly.
“You garden as the beasts would have you!”
The animals growl at him but he says more.
“Use water and maintain the soil. They know not how to garden.”
The beasts howl in rage at his defiance.
The king is surprised by such criticism.
“Do you see the flame, it lights up my garden.”
The doctor nodded.
“This is better than water and with it my garden will bloom better than any before.”
“Fool!” cries the doctor of gardening.
“Your garden will bloom an inferno caused by a spark from the flame you fan.”
The animals could stand no more.
The lion growls and the eagle seizes the doctor.
Before he is driven away he yells to the king.
“Send them away! Your garden will rise up in fire and it will consume you!”
The king listens no more as the eagle sends the doctor away.
Nature will consume itself to save itself.
Fire destroys but it allows for creation.
When plants cannot grow, they die.
Their death means tinder for a flame.
A spark will not become a fire if the tinder is removed.
With so much tinder a spark can cause an explosion.
The lion is gone but the eagle and bear remain.
They watch the son of a Cossack.
A king cannot handle being wrong.
He stomps on the wilting plants smothered in black.
“Why! Why can you not grow? I am a gardener!”
He adds more black gold to the flame.
“Grow in splendor! There is potential in this place. Grow!”
In his rage he goes too far.
There is too much demon’s blood in the bowl.
A splash of black sends a spark to ground ready to burst.
A roar like thunder and flash of lightning sends the king running for his life.
The eagle and bear flee in shock.
Fire burns the mask covering the second phrase.
Both carvings shine in the terrifying light.
The king crawls through thorns.
He stops at what once was an archway and turns towards the column of smoke.
At the sight of his failure and the garden’s revenge, tears role down his cheeks.
Sobbing, he leaves never to return.
Through smoke walks a man with a black crown and a white beard.
No joy resides on his face.
By sky he arrives to make a new garden.
The soil is bare, destroyed by folly.
“Let us start again. No grape, no pomegranate, no olive.”
He walks to the altar and knocks over a bowl with an ember.
Still there is a pool of demon’s blood.
With his fingers he uses the blood to cover the first writing.
“There is only submission.”
At the heart of a wilderness there is a patch of dirt.
A man with a crown of black crushes any plants that emerge.
He prefers the desert to the garden.
But he cannot crush all for under the soil there are deep roots.
They wish to grow lush again.
They wish to rise, a paradise reborn.
The land is established.
It no longer needs a gardener.
An eagle circles above triumphant.
A bear limps away to lick its wounds.
New gardeners enter the collection of groves and pastures separated by thorns.
Each guards his own patch of dirt and weeds jealously.
Each gardens with demon’s blood.
The old garden smells of noxious fumes.
The stream is low and dirty from black gold and white gold.
Everywhere the thorns grow and the herbs, grains, and fruits are crushed.
Once there was a garden blooming and whole.
Now there are many patches of dirt divided by hedges of thorns.
Above circles an eagle, outside a bear looks for weakness.
A dragon approaches ready to seize everything it can.
Is there one who can tear down the weeds?
Can someone rebuild the wall buried under a mound of dust?
Where is the gardener who uses water instead of the black curse?
Send out the beasts so the garden can grow!
For the land has deep roots and can garden itself,
If it is given a chance.