This is the legend of the poet whose pen’s ink ran dry when he attempted to write the truth.
He spent years writing and performing amusing tales and poems and songs, bringing laughter to the lives of people near and far. He kept the tales and poems and songs written in a large leather-covered book, fastened with a strap.
But the tales and poems and songs that lived in his heart were less amusing. There he held the tales of heartbreak, redemption, loss and pain. Sometimes, of an evening, he could sing one of those hidden songs, and the audience who remained to hear would cry hot tears. They would reach out and touch his hands, silently thanking him for understanding the hidden parts of their own hearts.
But when he opened his leather-covered book and attempted to ink the words of those songs inside, his pen’s ink ran dry, leaving no mark but an invisible path in the parchment.
The poet continued to open his mouth and amuse audiences near and far with his tales, and he rejoiced in the laughter that surrounded his performances. But through the joy, an ember of pain burned. The poet wanted, desired, needed to share his other tales, his other poems and songs. And in the crowds of eager, happy listeners, he could see the pain-filled eyes of those who needed to hear the other kind, to read them, to keep them. To reference the true tales and to feel they were not alone.
When the happy crowds wandered away to grin and laugh their way to their beds, the others stepped in from the edges of the circle, closer to the poet. Closer to his laugh-crinkled eyes that now relaxed and shone with another emotion. And now, the poet opened his heart. He poured out tales and poems and songs of the other kind. And his remaining audience nodded their heads, reached out to comfort the strangers among them, grasped hands in solidarity. And after, the poet walked away relieved, the ember of pain still glowing, but surrounded now by peace. And the people, the people nodded and smiled and bowed him on his way, through their tears.
Again and again, he tried to write the deeper tales of his heart. Again and again his pen’s ink ran dry. He scratched the poems into the pages of his book, but no ink flowed from his pen and no marks would rest on the page. He beat his fists against the traitorous pages of his leather-covered book. He snapped his pens into pieces. He flung inkwells until they bled black puddles on the floor.
And then he sat. He sat and gripped his hair in his fingers, pressing the heels of his hands into his aching eyes. He moaned out the words of a heartbreak tale. He sang a song of darkness and redemption. He spoke a poem of loss and pain. With every word, he felt the thump of his heart echo the truth. His heart that held such vast wells of laughter and sadness.
For a time, he sat that way, clutching his hair and feeling his heart send his lifeblood through his body.
The poet picked up an unbroken pen. He opened his leather-covered book to a fresh page. And he scratched out the words that lived in his beating heart. He saw no marks on the page, but he continued to write, the words pouring from his mind and heart through the fragile pen until he saw it. The stain began to flow, a pigment not black but red and rich and alive, beating onto the pages of his book, inking his precious and needful words into the parchment forever. Words that he knew for him must be shared, and for others, must be read.