H the Shadow, Chapter III


Dishonor is
but the kernel of
this story.

At night, H was
brought to bed full
of hope.

But the sun
shot through the little
skin of humanity on him.

He leaned quivering
over the clenched
hand of evil.


In this hour
of baptism, the man
dipping his fingers into

his soul whispered,
“Die. Let go
of passion and the heart.”


The captain, on the outside
a seaman, on the inside was
passing through

a sieve of something more
dreadful than sharks’
oil and dried cod.

H worked through
the long summer days on
the ship as a prisoner in fetters.


He was a human waterfowl, eager
to clamber up rocks to
the eggs. His bruised tongue

failed him. One hot word
from his man, and
the light in his eyes faded.


There settled on
the water an inky pall
of winter.

And in the silence
of that long
night, in gloves

with the odor of brine,
his own warm
limbs were glazed.


He stoked the peat fire and
listened to the
whispered curse at the heart of it.


Coming. Coming. Coming. Waves
were pressing. Tides were
flowing. His red

handkerchief turned
white. “If I should die,”
H said, “I will

father nothing but
frost.” He lay back on
the pillow. It was Easter.


Continue to Book I, Chapter IV

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