A dozen steps lead to a lower level where the tropical vegetation has overtaken and concealed much of the concrete and the glass tile work, hides it from view and simultaneously allows the local amphibians to thrive without drying up, desiccation being that state they fear most – given the ready permeability of their membranes – if amphibians can accurately be said to fear anything at all. Which is not to suggest they are a particularly brave class of creature so much as to question the complexity of what goes on inside their heads. I consider lying beneath a particularly impressive overarching of banana leaves all day, or until the sun has drifted so far west as to seem as if it doesn’t belong to our world any longer. As if it were its own entity and obeyed its own agenda without being the least bit concerned with what we might need or want from it, those of us occupying a sphere ninety-six million miles away (if you are to insist on a materialist reading of where we stand in relation to the other objects of the universe and what our influence over them might conceivably entail). Shouldn’t the architecture of the sky follow some set and rigid pattern rather than simply changing every hour with the whims of whatever architect designed the sky in the first place and then decided he didn’t like it, decided it might as well be left to its own devices? Or are we asking too much of the sky when we attempt to discern within it patterns and messages and other oblique ways of giving guidance to those of us here on solid ground where guidance is – to put it mildly -- so difficult to come by? It usually takes the form of words spoken by relatives determined to make us feel as if we have been behaving in a decidedly selfish fashion, or those written down by authors who don’t really care if we pay attention to what they are saying. They are too busy wondering where their next swallow of good scotch is going to come from and how they are going to take the events that actually happened to them at some point in the distant past – be they traumatic and involving the sudden appearance of pythons snakes or blissful and necessitating the tangling of limbs and the quickening of breath one otherwise associates with staying on a treadmill too long – and alter them so as to make them unrecognizable to those who might have participated in the original events. If these altered events manage somehow, for all that, to become potentially transformative, to become that which finally makes the unbearable lives of those who consume them bearable if only for an hour or two while they (those who have plunked down their fourteen dollars and ninety-five cents) hold the book in their hands, so much the better. But of course it is a balancing act with no hope of success, the sort of thing the high-wire artist experiences just as the wind is picking up and he is preparing to plunge the thirty or so stories to his death. The sort of thing that makes us wonder if perhaps we ought to abandon our search for transcendence, for anything even remotely life-affirming, and decide finally to just get by -- the way rodents do when they are shredding bits of newspaper to line their nests or the way the invasive zebra mussels of the great lakes do when they attach themselves to solid surfaces beneath the waves and wait out whatever time they have been given without so much as moving an inch.