My god was my belly, my motive self-love, O Lord. I made a rational choice to return when my stomach won out over my pride. So I returned to you. And you took my concept of justice—the poetic justice of a morality tale that has me serving my father and family having wished I had never run off, a thief of my family’s wealth and good name—you took this concept and smashed it to bits, didn’t want to hear a word of it. You could have taken over my will by rights, cruelly or even kindly. Instead, you chose to take over my heart. Why? Maybe because, somehow, I had already taken over yours.
And I can’t fool myself into thinking that I pulled one over you, that not only do I get the food I needed, but the best food and finest clothes without having to lift a finger—yes, that finger of mine with its ring. I’m still trying to get my mind around it. Do you mean that you don’t have sons just as an add-on to your prestige? I mean, no one’s going to say, “You raised them well, what a great father you are.” No, people will ridicule you for taking me back. Does my life mean so much to you?
I had strode through silvery forest glades, looked out over the deep from a soaring coast of cliffs. Searching. I had cried at the gladiators for blood, squeezed the learned for wisdom, whispered sweet words of seduction, scattered money through brothels . Searching. And yet… my quest remained unfulfilled. It remained unfulfilled until that day, that moment that holds all my forever in an instant. It was only in your arms, in your strong, yearning embrace, that I discovered who I am. I am your son.