Saturday, March 3, 2012

The sole heir

The sole heir                                                                                     

Though illegitimate, the courts declared him the sole heir.
His inheritance – a decaying mansion with a vast collection of art.

Times being hard, he immediately tried to sell off
a random painting.  It proved a forgery.

Another proved the same.
And yet another.

The last of his money went into
having the whole collection examined.
Worthless, the assessor declared.
The son cursed his fate. 
He cursed his father – the old man’s
deception and profligacy, his cruelty and neglect.

An elderly servant brought forth a small painting
kept apart from the others.  It was a depiction of the Christ.

The assessor began to weep.  There is no way,
he said, to assign value to this piece –

it is an icon from the days of the early church.
You have only to name a price and your fortune is made.

The young man’s eyes fell upon the eyes of his Lord.
He blessed his father in the name of Jesus and remained poor,

returning the painting to its place in the old mansion’s chapel.
Upon his death, the icon was bequeathed to the local church.

O child of God, reject the meticulously replicated forgeries.
Cling to the one authentic treasure which has been laid at your feet.

                              (from A Jewel in the Dust)

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