"The God of the Bitter-Black Wood", or, "Seven Glass Eyes"

Once there was a wicked man, who lived far too long, and on his belt was a leather sack, and in the sack were seven glass eyes. And each day he would open his sack, and the eyes would turn and look at him, until one day, they would not look away, and he could no longer live in the city of men. So he left, and went into the empty lands.

And on his belt he had another leather sack, and in this sack were seven berries, bitter-black and dry, with the seeds rattling in the heart of them. But the empty lands were so empty! So he took from the sack the seven berries, bitter-black and dry, and buried them in little mounds, and waited for the rain. The rain took a long time in coming, but he waited, for he had already lived far too long, and he had time. And then the rain came, and the little berries sprouted thickets, bitter-black and thick with thorns.

Then the man went round to the seven bitter-black hedges, and opened up his other sack, and in the nook just above the roots, he nestled, in each hedge a single glass eye. And then he trimmed the low branches, so that the hedge grew high and broad into seven trees, and the gnarled thorns wrapped round themselves into a trunk, and in the wrapping, wrapped around the eyes, and closed them in tight. And the growing took a long time in coming, but he waited, for he had already lived far too long, and he had time.

And then he waited, for the trees to bear their fruits, for the winter was coming on, and the flowers were fallen, and the buds displaced. And the fruit too was slow in coming, but it came, too, rich black-violet, and heady with its own smooth bitterness. And the birds came down and gnawed their beaks against the bitter-black skins, until each thousand-fruit split broad, and in the center of each fruit was a pink and mournful tongue. And all the tongues cried out against the man.

And though the growing had been slow, the song was quick, and the hearing quicker, and a great storm came down, and it tore and fought, and heaved and wept, and buckled and drank, and vomited all that it drank down. And when the storm was gone, the man came out from under a brake of ferns, and six trees lay before him, snapped off at the trunks, just above the ground. And in the jagged stumps, laid clean and clear and watchful, there were six glass eyes. And the man rejoiced and took the eyes, and put them in his leather sack. And the tree that still remained stood quiet in the empty-lands, and said nothing.

But God came down then, and sat by the man and watched him as he tied the sack up tight. And he watched as the man went to the lone remaining tree, and from it plucked seven berries, closed up and shriveled, dry and rattling, and he put them in the other sack. And then, the wicked man, turned and he looked at God, and God was what he always had been - not God, but just the God of the Bitter-Black Wood. And the wicked man reached out his hand, and the God of the Bitter-Black Wood plucked out his glass eye, and set it in the open palm of the wicked man. And the wicked man put the eye in the little leather sack, and turned to walk back toward the city of men.


Sara said...

Beautiful. I love it when you write something.

Love from (now!) Portland.

Jason Gignac said...

I'm so glad you made it! I'm happy you guys are able to start your new life there :). Sorry I have not been chatty.