The touch of a hand on a screen of a lily in the water at daybreak; that is the sound that rings through his mind, and his heart is thumping out all the horrors his eyes cannot forget, loins desperately remembering the ribaldries of the evening before in sudden burning recollection, and the time is not right, the day is dark, the clouds strike with the fever of a maddened God upon the tree that stands outside his porch, splitting it in twain and setting the ground alight with the embers of a nighttime's folly, birthing ash and dust that blows away in the wind, across the lake, scattered motes of consciences and memories lingering, as though kept aloft by nothing more than starlight in the everlasting midnight of a sunless world where skeletons rock on their porches and bones rattle in their cots.

It is not a work of beauty, but the artistic miscarriage of a God maddened by hunger and agony and the realization that His infinite self is a speck of nothing in a sea of nothing, drunk and psychotic like the broken bottles that litter the floor of their home where he has just beaten his wife and shouted at his son, and they huddle together in the corner, crying to each other, his head on her bosom in the faint beginnings of an Oedipal rebellion that he will never dream of until the day twenty years later when he shuts his father in jail and hugs his crying mother one more time.

But the life of these ants in this macrocosm is a foolish thing to even consider, even consider considering, for there are so many of them that the greatest genius turned his inner eye to the entirety of creation and cried a single tear before hanging himself from the beautiful linden tree, swinging ever so gently in the breeze that ripples the purest white of the simple robe, the only thing he possessed apart from the table, pen, and book of empty parchment he never wrote anything in for the simple lack of ink.

Of course, the nothingness of realization is a madness shared by few, and if they gather at all, they instantly recognise each other for what they are and turn their noses up at the thought of fraternising with each other before regretting once they are so far past each other on the road that turning around to gaze behind only nets a sense of remembrance and a poignant leaflet of loss in the book of the heart which blind men ink in their own sweat, fools in their tears, and enlightened men in their blood.

Yes, there is a punctuation, but there is nothing more as God draws his weary feet from beneath the table and scratches His almighty scalp, unknowing, foolish, unwise in the face of the infinity he has drawn in, watching insignificances play out beneath his fingers, intertwined, complex, unfathomable like the movement of the grains of sand in a beach wracked by a thunderstorm in the worst of winter, one last child standing at the edge of the ocean, her hair wreathed around her face like the terrible visage of a hag of the deep, but she is crying into the wind because there is nothing else she knows how to do, and the blast of salty spray on her face melds with the tears that flow from eyes as red as the day she left her mother's womb, waves crash on rocks older than time and foam with a white whiter than the lucid of eyeballs taken from the maddest of madmen that men have found wandering in the wilderness, severd from the world they knew, unwilling to let go of their past, driven mad as surely as a man on the rack for half his lifetime, and in an iron maiden for the other.

No, this madness is not for any sort of thing to comprehend, it is big, blind, dumb, mute, unfeeling, unknowable, immense, terrible, peaceful, manic in its all-encompassing entirety, it is Creation in its fullest, it is insanity in a drop of sand, it is the first drop of blood that spills when a mother gives birth to her only child and the last drop of blood to leave the wound in his side as he bleeds to death in a military hospital, it is the first mote of dust that settles on a table of the finest Venetian glass as an elated family moves to a new beginning, and the gravest speck upon the eldest son's coffin as he is laid to rest in the cemetery not too far from where he was born, it is the first vibration at the start of time that rippled through the nothingness and made the worlds and lit the nuclear fires of the suns, and it is the very last tremor of an unwilling death as it grasps at eventuality and dies in a pool of its own ignorance.

Madness, they say it is, but it is simply immensity, the world in a wild-flower beside a lake where the lovers smelt it and smiled at each other, the same lake that feeds a river that flows to the sea where poisons have flowed into for countless generations, and made fish in the shape of monstrosities only the crazed opium addicts of old Shanghai might have envisioned, the smokes caressing their faces like the touch of mothers they left to seek a living, which they have forgotten in their gently dying in their dens beside the wharves which receive the Northern wind that once blew across the home of the loneliest man in the world, writing his collections of isolation in the comfort of a log cabin in the wilderness where nobody went and nobody would go, for fear of the terrible winter that took the lives of thousands and mercilessly stabbed needles into those foolish enough to emerge unclothed; but is not the lot of man to emerge into this world blind, naked, crying, stupid, small and ready for death?

The German opens his mouth and sings again, but by this time the notes have worn weary, and even Gods in their Heavens can no longer find interest in the worlds they have created, bored, perplexed, still unconvinced of an answer they gave themselves, undying of an immortality they wrought upon themselves, and so they peer once again into the world of multitudinous injustices, and laugh, a bitter, tormented laugh that rings through the ravings of the man in the straitjacket in room number eighty-nine, who has seen and turned mad because he has seen, whose tongue speaks no more words because the words of man are immensely insufficient to describe the sheer terror of a man who has seen an abyss so large his sight stared into it for three days and nights and could not plumb a fraction of its depth, the immensity of the emptiness that occupied the mind; for those who stare into the night will walk away darker, and he had gazed into infinity for his entire life before he reminded himself that his body was still made of flesh and nerve, and he returned to the world he had tried to lose with morphine and opium and alcohol, mad, mad, crazier than the Mad Arab, possessed of as much sanity as the girl of the western woods had wild-flowers in winter.

"But", she said, "the flowers are not for me", and she smiled, an enigmatic sort of grin at the edge of tenderest lips, at the edge of a forest that betrayed its age in the weariness of the land that still bore its fruit and nurtured its seeds, a tiredness in the step of the ancient witch who walked the land disguised as a mere child, who haunted the roads that led to Purgatory and Damnation, that same hag who paddled the ferry across Charon, who kept the waters of Lethe in a bottle in her tattered cloak, and who sought nothing more than to speak with unwary travellers, grinning through perfect teeth in a tender youth's face, and those unsuspecting smiled at her and patted her head and said "you'd best go back home now, young one", before turning back on their path, the warmth of humanity in their hearts rekindled by the chance encounter on a path as blasted of life as a barren emptiness of burned-out trees and vultures' skeletons.

There was one she was waiting for, and he knew he would have to speak to her, and so they waited, he on his fours, then walking the world on two legs and two eyes and the desperation of a man who knew the hour of his death, then when his bones grew old, a cane made from a branch of the tree that his great grandfather had hung from, a monocle smelted from the bullets that the doctor had found in his father's leg, and a top hat woven from his mother's shroud, and he walked and walked and walked, never knowing rest, for his curse was to seek out the place of his final resting, and hers was to wait until he passed her; and so one day upon a blasted heath, she accosted him with smiles and riddles, and he, desparingly, declared the death of his existence, the ultimate fate of death that was all mankind's to share, but his alone to bear; and she smiled in the knowledge and laughed with a lightness he had not heard since he was first able to understand his mother, and in the woods where she had grown up, they coupled with a fury and intensity; then he was gone in the morning, as certain of the place of his grave as she was; and uncountable trillions of years later, when all was dead in the smoke of ending, when he finally laid down his cane and took off his hat, at the end of the long path he took was a bed and a smiling bride and a headstone, and he smiled back at her and took his rightful place as king of the dead.

Only the finality of oblivion would find them at peace, but they are but two in the story of the Universe, such an impossibly small iota of the immense entirety that is all Creation, but even a being as infinite in His glory as God could not bear the madness of comprehending it all, for he was after all made in the image of his creations, and then he threw his arms in the air and tore out his hair in the immeasurable despair that only countless nights in the open night staring at stars with blind eyes will give the wisest of men the smallest measure of understanding of, and rising from his seat on the throne of a thousand feathers and thousand skulls, he turned his back and stood tall and walked into the great infinity that lay before him, the Architect of Time uncertain of the fate of the smallest leaf on a branch on a tree beside a lake in an autumn that held on like the desperate grasp of a dying lover as she wasted away, only to close her eyes in contention, perhaps feeling the first of tears like the first drop of rainwater upon an Earth parched from centuries of wasting and poisoning, deserts and dunes and the broken scraps of civilization strewn across its surface, unknowing that Armageddon had smote their grandfathers and judged them barely worthy of striding across a land that had once been Paradise to millions and Hell to billions.

And for one man, it was Purgatory, for the solitary harlequin who, drunk from a midnight's revels, walked the roads where flowers grew from showers of rain and no fences kept his feet from stumbling across grass greener than the stars were beautiful; he was the wisest man in the world, the traveller of a thousand roads, the greatest clown who made all laugh save himself; he was the incarnation of Balthasar and Grimaldi and Durandal, the smiling man whose heart ate at himself, the mortal desiring to walk with the Gods, and after flying in Heaven with Him, wanted nothing more than to rest at the end of Creation and go gladly to his death. And in the forest where she waited, there were flowers that grew not of tears but of blood, there were trees who wept over the lakeside, bent in their mourning; such were the woods in which she waited patiently, smiling at all those travellers who would win her heart, already knowing her groom in the writings of the leaves as they drifted from their branches to the gentle waving of the wind.

It is a desolation of the spirit that inhabits the broken roads where he has trod, the accusing grin of skulls and pointing finger-bones that he has been the architect of their destruction, and on his shoulders is the burden of the souls of all who have been before him and watched their passing in the footsteps he has taken, and he is the wise and the weary and the one despaired of all but unable to change his path, for he is Destiny, a name to a thought of a reason to the workings of the Universe, a faint understanding of the very first wise man as he sat before the fire and had a hole cut into his skull because his brothers in blood thought him insane.

There is nothing more once he blinks and opens his eyes into the blankness of a world fresh to creation, and in the moment of realization that he is the God of an empty world, the Lord of a canvas made of the slate of time and the strings of fate, the Almighty of the entirety of existence that even now he grasps in the shell of a hand that exists only because he is too stunned to think of anything else to hold it in; and then, trapped in the endless cycle of creation, the father who makes his son in his image and dies by his hand, like the son who emerges a defiant, crying, foolish copy of his father, he only weeps and shudders and flails with the knowledge of all creation, the final understanding of how it all has been and how it will be, and the only things he can think to say are "make it like it used to be".