For the philosopher, Porphyry,
the sun was not so much a real thing
as it was a name for that which we
could not possibly name. A name for God, say.
Every day he set out his seed
to toast in the hot sun.
He thought about how a shaft
of light can transform a fire from the safety of
a home and hearth into the majestic
destroyer of woods and fields.
How quickly the dead leaves and the birds’ nests
are set aflame. Why, even the cobwebs must briefly glow.
So why not burn a man? A spark,
then smoke rises into his limbs and lungs.
It is as if a whole world were on fire.
A singed sky, a poem and metaphor, all in a man.
And all point to flames even higher.
A spark. For what? To lift our souls?
Porphyry could not have known
about the inquisition. Or the burning
of heretics. That lay too far in the future.
He simply knew the Christians had
misunderstood his philosophy.
That was enough.
His trees would not burn.
He would live in history…
After his walk, Porphyry popped
a few seeds in his mouth.
They seemed to help his digestion
and they tasted so much better for the sun.