"I am innocent of this man's blood; you will see"
And so I was. Or I thought I was. I have been recalled to Rome. I believed coming back here would mean the world would have a fulcrum again. Here at the centre of the world I look and I look but there is no centre here. This garden of stone is nothing but a façade for the chaos that runs beneath the outer shells of normalcy. There is water under the stone. I heard it said before he could make water come from the stone. There is water everywhere here under the stones and arches and I feel it weighing down on me, heavier, heavier.
Dry lands produce reckless religions. Their traditions killed them. I am innocent of their blood. There is no water here. There is no Taheb here you foolish Samaritans, no Moses, no saviour to end your petty squabbles. Just me, just me residing over men whose religions I will never understand. There is no Taheb anywhere who will come to save your souls. Damn your procession you Samaritans, marching as though he were only a few moons away, as though you could crush the empire with your faith in a God whose face you’ve never seen. He looked at me as they cloaked him again and he is still conscious after all of that while the Roman who did it is snickering surely he has not washed his hands of the blood, but there is no spite like there should be, no broken silence - something else that men aren’t supposed to see is gushing beyond the shells of his eyes.
They were all thirsty, every one of them but they crowded toward me and I had no choice, I kept telling myself there’s no choice the men in the crowds had to be signalled or they’ll be the death of me for giving them water. For building an aqueduct they hate me, and they shout obscenities at me as they’re getting closer and louder and everything is closing in so I signal them. And the closer ones are beaten and a few are bleeding while the others are scattering and a few more attacking my men but their clubs are stronger than their skulls and I am safe again. I am safe from their savage intensity. I held his arm out toward the crowd but logic wouldn’t sway them it was all about tradition and their traditions were the Pharisees bickering among them; I heard the temple fall when he died and I felled the temple and he took that whip like a lamb to the slaughter but they wouldn’t listen to reason so I washed my hands of his blood and I was innocent again.
But Rome has no centre. I can feel it. I can feel it seeping forever into my bones.