Charles Brian Orner


Alex Clarke

There is one rule, and one rule only. It isn’t even a rule, really; it’s more like sacred counsel. A sage nugget of higher wisdom, hard-won and heavy, like an ancient stone carving nestled deep in the inner garden, lost under the old growth canopy, and faint like soft shadows in early morning mist. One squints and cranes and blinks away the slumber, pining for a glimpse of movement. Nothing. Summer days will favor the flowers instead, obscuring the mottled greens and the granite. But it’s there for a reason—for the long view back, and the memories of winter; cool vision under color; unblinking amidst the fog and the burn-off and the sweet summer swelter. Blossom and fragrance may come and go, but the stone gnome owns the place. Stoic and cold and silent and strange; every day it glowers at the gardener, demanding attention and a reckoning. One crosses the carving only rarely, and never without consequence. You must not be discovered.