Alligators crawl through the slippered streets, punctuating the monks’ marches for alms. Bathed in a tropical punch glow, the women wash green vegetables in the shallows by the wharf. Cradled in her mother’s arms, a moon baby peeks out from her blanket of snow with cinnamon eyes. Deaf boys run shouting through the markets, each point of pressure upon a sack or bale containing languages, symbols, conversations, memory. Everywhere the smell of pine needles and gunpowder, as the chiefs gather straws on the reed mats, then toss once more for fortune. Forgiven, the street dogs return from their dark pound, whining majestically all the while. Gnawing at an old sock, the village cat does not even deign to move as the early train shoots past its tiny sphere of influence. Having given up on dancing, two drunk men stagger towards a wall that’s already warm, and somehow jam wedge themselves between the soft earth and the curiously expanding bricks. Imagine a world like this, where you and your kind have not yet set foot; nor will you ever come to know if this place, stolen from the itineraries of travellers and merchants, holds even migratory ducks. Jettisoned from the misery of a globe with only one side, it does exist, if you care to close your eyes and give up the attempt. Knowledge is a small brazier being attended to by wasps and the grisly night. Liminally conscious of its depths and, likewise, its shallows, winter comes and goes. Margarine could be a cursing word or a lubricant, were it not coloured like the sun and so prone to its rays. Nothing escapes the attention of the oracle, though no one here knows just who that oracle actually is, each having long ago given up his or her right to distinctions. Only the gravediggers are known by name, in this town where nobody seems even to die, or to care for sleep. Poppies blowing in the green breeze of the mounds, the gauze creep of the corrals. Quiet spaces, no more shall we sense them, know them, breathe them in through nostrils clogged with noise and slint. Restored, the grand walkway of the stars billows pain comets and milk teeth, caught by small children lying on their backs. Silhouetted against the puppet theatre stage curtains, two lovers explore each others’ thighs. Teach me to remain calm when your gaze is directed this way, phantom bird of the abstract jungle hair. Unlike moon babies, our spiralling lives must end somewhere, together or wrapped in clean sheets. Vertical graves, silent tongue dances, half-moon kisses for your eyelids. Waxen, your smoky cheeks grow roses, setting off chain-reactions in atomic fields. Xanadu, I suppose. You never gave that city a name, not even when the last rains came, and it was time to bring in the red peppers. Zookeepers have forgiven animals for lesser escape attempts; now comes the time for you to size up the wend of the wires.