(1) After the others have gone to their beds, I sit at the bar, waiting. I drink tea, listen to the conversations of the men at the table nearby. They are talking about sugar. They are talking about art. There is a low buzz in my head, at the base of my skull. It radiates white heat.

(2) In my dream, I wander a garden, overgrown now, neglected. An iron gate around which vines have wrapped tendrils. The great oak trees are dying branch by branch. You are standing at the gate. You say: Who will tend this garden, these trees? How will the birds know where to land? 

(3) I think I will shut myself up in a faraway place. I think I will wrap myself in blankets and watch the world swirl by from my window. I think I have had enough of this - collecting stones, mowing lawns, stacking the dead branches of trees. I will let my hair grow long. I will furrow my brow. I will compile a glossary of all words and phrases related to the sea. I will let my eyesight grow weak. Write letters that I will never send. 

(4) A finch at the feeder. The curtains on the window in my sister’s house parted. Her son taps at the glass and the bird flies off but returns. White curtains yellowed by the sun. Flies off, returns. 

(5) The hotel mirror exaggerates my form. I fall exhausted to my bed but do not sleep. I smell bleach and citrus. I hold myself and exhale loudly, just to hear the sound of my own breathing.

(6) Night, in its insistent stillness, astonishes. In darkness, waking from a dream in which I wandered a dense maze of overgrowth, I bring my hands to my face, press my fingertips against my skin. I reach for water, bring the cup to my lips. It is sweet. 

(7) I think when I awake, these days will have been a dream. I will rise, begin again, as one year slides into the next. I think of what I have seen and felt, the breadth of it. Of all that I have yet to see. Won’t a flock of birds wake me with their chatter? Won’t I make my way home to you, this tired heart a map on which nothing else is marked.