THE GREAT EXPLORER
The great explorer leaves the palace. Even without his splendid hat of feathers, he has to crouch to get through the gates.
“Those at the gates are the brothers of explorers,” he says to the gatekeeper. “We look into the distance and see first what others see only later.”
“Sometimes I see those who return with an arrow stuck through them,” the gatekeeper says, “Though mostly I sleep in this chair with my hat pulled over my eyes.”
The explorer mounts his horse and rides out into the fields. He smells the subtle scent of rolled hay, sees the familiar pocketful of stars above him.
Now he rides to the shore and boards his ship. He will find a new land. Those on the shore watch him sail away. They watch him get smaller as he approaches the horizon. He is the size of a small child. Soon he is no bigger than a pebble. Then he is nothing but a speck, a pinprick, a molecule.
He sails across the sea and discovers a new land. He throws down his anchor then rows to shore. An island chief appears on the sand. He is surrounded by many people dancing and bearing great platters of fruit.
The island chief looks around the shore. He looks at the sea. He looks up, then down. Then he sees the explorer.
“These platters of fruit are for you, small one,” the chief says.
“Thanks,” the explorer says. “They look delicious.”
“Might take a few days to eat them,” the chief says. ”What with your size and all.”
“What about my size?” the explorer says, feeling quite miffed.
“My brother, you are very small,” the chief says. “Like a mosquito or an electron. But do not worry.
My own son was born small. At first we thought he was just far away. But eventually he grew. Though he’s still ugly, even from a distance. Monkey-face, we call him.”
“Your people dance well,” the great explorer says.
“You are so small, but have come so far,” the chief replies.
“I can’t afford to get smaller. I might disappear. Have my ship,” the explorer tells the chief. “The next world is yours.”