I push along a dirt road slicing through a cold russet meadow of spiked wheat, littered with wren twitter and the dried corpses of voles. Then a forest where the road bends left.
Then a wooden series of poor shop fronts joining ramshackle buildings. Within: languor, mothballs, clothes dangling from racks like slaughterhouse skins. I move through that tawdry museum. Ladies behind counters watch with indifference, eating orange food from styrofoam containers. My mother sadly picks the flesh of a herring from its bones. Her head is bowed, as if not wanting to reveal to me her shame, her disappointment. Children push parents into their graves.
Then a shelf of photographs of boys at various ages. I am told that all of them are me, that I leave a trail of photographic husks in my wake to be marveled at by a wave of identity pushing through flesh. But those boys are a lie. They are impossibly small and in the landscape of the photographs light passes through them; they cast no shadow. Nor do the photographs themselves. I reach behind one of them and feel something warm and flowing.
The cheap dust on the trinkets. The make-up on the women stinking of berries. The mannequin whose head turns to follow my exit, not before I glimpse the cord that connects it to the wall socket and snort. It calls my name. The door bangs shut behind me.
Outside among the winds. Shredded clouds hurl across a sky wiped smooth and gleaming like tar. Prey to a violent sickness, one that reverses my rivers and wrings me like a stale chamois, I am carried on a pallet by some unknowns. I lay—a field of cramps, of exhausted twitchings, a bad sweat drying to me. I am carried to a house which was also carried there by men with different faces. I swallow some arrowroot powder. Winds shake the earth. Through the window the stars blink. There is little to protect.
A violent thud against the house and I leap from the scattering continent of a dream, creep across the darkened floorboards, past the quivering heirlooms. The toppled candle.
Outside at the hem of woods: chilled meadow and wet dirt road beyond. At the corner of the dark house a shattered boat. The gables sag toward the splintered collision site. Oars and crates and tattered, musty canvas collapsed in the prickers. Dark bodies lay strewn in the grass. They are punctured and dripping. I swim among them in my disease. The waves…