The dusty air of the courtyard never seemed to settle,
invading the lungs of those passing by.
The hot afternoon sun bakes the stone roads black,
light tinged orange.
The man with the gaping eye,
his empty socket a crinkled web of scars.
A blank face looks upon me,
His once strong jaw,
now loose and misshapen from days he wishes he could forget.
He still knows their names,
they have long forgotten his.
His leathery fingers,
gnarled and twisted,
appear like the roots of an ancient oak tree.
Knuckles many times larger than they should be,
are cracked and worn,
weathered by both sun and time.
His calloused feet,
tucked and curled beneath him,
bear the scars and broken bones of times when he forgot,
crushed under foot and hoof.
He has long lost count,
it now hurts too much for him to walk.
His only eye,
it tells the story of his past,
whispering tales about the years of joy he used to have,
days so long gone they became legends to him,
legends he no longer believes in.
But legends cannot hide the deep sadness of his darker days,
the ones that followed when she left him to his madness.
His brilliant mind,
in those days,
was sharp enough to know what he had done,
yet too shattered to prevent it.
Today he still knows,
and it visits his dreams at night.
I hand the man an old chain,
his fingers collapsing around it,
feeling its surfaces,
holding it like the child he lost years ago.
He still has her picture in a rosewood box in his pocket,
wishing he could still see her smile.
Like a ray of sunlight,
the man with the gaping eye laughs,
face warped into a broad grin,
yellow and broken teeth bared.
A single tear running down his face,
his mouth moves wordlessly.