Chieftain, Winter King, Radiant Brow, Poet, Bard, Bright Seer-the Raven watched from its lofty perch, hidden up in the branches.
How many Names, the guise of a Soul, transmigrating through different Ages, different Lives? All-Father had followed this one long, known him, and named him—Bright Seer.
Time in the Raven’s perception--the Void of its other eye directed upon the storming skies--was a net of silver split by a spectra of parallel webs, deep well of the spiraling Universe, bridged by Middle Earth, spanning the vast eternity to the infinite stars, fabric of life, essence of the atomic and tangible.
New World, new Men—old arrogance of mortals, deluded by grandeur, Dreams shaped of greed and gain, rather than Poetry and Science.
They had long ago, grown deaf to the Language of the Trees, another thread woven into the coruscation of existence. Severed from that Truth, they crawled through their Epochs, blind babes graced with occasional flares of Genius, Inspiration drunk from the Well, fathomless Pool over which He had hung millennia upon millennia past, imbibing of sacred Mead.
Thomas never opened his eyes, letting urge govern action, lost in the remembrance of his lips circling her belly, fingers, palms spread wide, wandering over thighs and up, caressing between her breasts, about to follow the direction of his mouth, the sweet softness found in that place of a woman’s moist arousal. The musk of lovemaking drove primordial impulse, as he slid up, over her, seeking to enter—
Harsh, grating, a Raven’s caw shattered the illusion of passion drowning the man’s sense.
He retched, suddenly immersed in the odor of decaying, rotten flesh, sensation of seeping slime, serpents, roaches and worms crawling over his limbs and body. He was suffocating in a swamp, cesspit of dung and decomposing meat, prone in the earth, overcome by terror as he gagged again, eyes flying open, to darkness and the tempest tossed night, fingers buried in dirt, face plastered with wet mud, before his wife’s tombstone.
The Raven’s cackle broke, scathing into the grip of Illusion, hauled him back into the beating storm.
He recoiled onto hands and knees, eyes glancing about the dark clearing. Horrified, disoriented by the drenching, lightening tossed gale, hearing the Raven crow through the confused shadows and buffeting wind.
Against flashing skies, he caught sight of the creature’s gloomy outline, taking wing into the wild night, its screech slicing through his mind, obliterating any last remnant of mirage.
Rain drops pierced like icy blades into his flesh, torn shirt, ripped breeches evidence of a flight he had no memory of, skin bruised, stinging where twigs and thorns cut, and stone gashed deep.
Contorted images, half-remembrance of her laughter, summoning him into the night, he felt only rising disgust at the desire bloomed in his groin, now ebbing in the wake of his loss, trying to piece coherence out of fragmented obscenity.
Fingers came to his face, wiping absently at the dirt caked into his beard, full from weeks of neglect in shaving. Leaning back onto his heels, bereft, he remained in the mire edging the slab of white marble.
His hair was matted, wet and hopelessly tangled with bracken from the foliage he had wrestled through, on his crazed passage over field and forest track.
Overcome by equal parts exposure and fear, Thomas Jefferson, on his knees in the squalling night, before the grave of his dead wife, couldn’t control the shaking engulfing his hands, his body.
Madness—had been a trait of his mother’s side, the intemperate, inbred Randolphs.
Hands fell into his lap, curling fingers in palms, shivering violently.
Never, in all his life, shy of his fourth decade, guided by intellect and philosophical reason, had he believed himself susceptible to such an overpowering, insatiable insanity.
He reached out with a shaking hand, seeking touch in the darkness. The night still brewed with rain, distant bursts of thunder, storm-heads beginning to thin, chased across the face of the moon, lightening whipping the looming heavens.
His fingers contacted frigid marble, guiding him in the dark, as he crawled atop the slick stone, forehead bowed in misery, upon her grave-head.
Tear-choked, the wordless cry which followed welled from the depths of his heart, cast from his lungs, speared against God and Fate, all of his anger, his sorrow, shorn by the cold, ceaseless wind.
Sightless in the night, he traced the etching, torn from him in death, feeling his tears flow beneath shuttered lids, a last sob wrenched from his throat.
Oh God, how I miss you. Please, please don’t leave me here. I cannot face the coming years without—
Part 5 Coming Soon!