Slowly, step by step, the elderly man walks down the stairs of the temple towards the square. A few people look up, but not as many as in the first days of the goddess’ slumber. He reaches the bottom of the temple’s stairs and for the first time in his life – his long, long life – he walks towards the goddess’ statue and the empty pedestal next to it that stand in a corner of the square. He ascends the three steps in front of the pedestal and, leaning on his cane, overlooks the square. Very few people look up and those that do, do so only briefly before continuing about their usual business. Afraid to ask or say anything, perhaps? Or perhaps nobody remembers… He frowns. His reputation is, amongst the younger people of the city, that of a friendly old man that keeps the temple clean and knows a lot of stories. They are respectful to him, but more out of awkward discomfort than anything else. He had thought about it more often than not and knows that, by now, everyone is ‘younger people’.
For the first time in nearly two-hundred years, he speaks the words in earnest. The poem is truth again.
He speaks softly “The wind blows. The water churns.” and hears the words a thousand times louder in return. His voice booms over the square, fresh and deep as in his twenties. It is followed by silence, wrapped in a thin veil of calm patience. He listens. The sounds of the city have died out to his ears, he hears only his own breathing.
None at the square halt or look around to find the source of the echoing message. None have heard the loud and crystal clear voice, and very few have ever. None hear the silence that has descended upon him. Some point at him and look, some decide to continue on their daily routine, as people do when they’re not sure what to make of an old man talking to himself on a pedestal. Many have stood on the pedestal to shout their messages to the world, of peace and love, of anger and despair, of two for the price of one on Tuesday’s at Binky’s. Not all people realize this is a rather different occasion. An occasion that all must surely know of, but never considered to be more than a poem for children.
He repeats the message again, whispering it this time. “The wind blows. The water churns.” The echo, in turn, is even louder than before. Windows vibrate under the message’s intensity, the sheer weight of the words carries it across the square, into the sky and over rooftops, through walls and doors, into every chamber of every house until it has reached every inhabitant of the city. Most people still don’t hear. Most people don’t receive the message, very few are special enough to even feel the city’s trembling.
The message now, is nothing but a breath of air on his lips. “The wind blows. The water churns.” He feels the power that shakes the city, as if a spell was cast. After the sound has died out, he steps down from the pedestal and ascends the temple’s stairs again. His task is nearly completed.