The pit at the center of the cherry stands no chance against my teeth, not on this day when the sounds that drift down from the floor above are those of fallen bottles and someone playing a familiar melody on what I take to be a mandolin. I’m left with innumerable hard bits on my tongue, intermixed with the half-chewed pulp, and an unpleasant sense that the melody is going to haunt me until late in the evening when I can finally put a name to it. When I can tell myself that what I am doing is no different than what everyone else on the planet is doing at some point or another. Barking commands at imaginary underlings. Exploring roads that seem to have no set direction -- no single identity of their own -- just so as to have something to do for half an hour. Or until the clock stops working because it is one of those with hands and the force of gravity has finally grown stronger than whatever force it was that allowed those hands to defy gravity for years on end. Of course, just when I think I have turned a corner, when I think I will be able to continue without suffering one abominable pang after another for the rest of my life, I look into her eyes again for just a moment and I am lost. How can the most intense experience one knows in a lifetime be the simple act of gazing? Thank God at times like this for the invention of the trombone! For those who know how to make the trombone sound faintly like a full-fledged thought first emerging from that region of the mind where thoughts have not yet been granted their full compliment and arsenal. Where they are mere lines and shadows floating about at the surface of something very like a soup or stew. And you are expected to dip some sort of implement (this, in the right hand, I suppose, is the trombone itself, though it could also conceivably be other items like a spatula or a novel, so long as you are the one who writes it) into the soup or stew so as to dredge up from the bottom whichever pieces have gotten stuck, have been burnt on and so can be expected to contain the greatest concentration of minerals and collagens and whatever peculiar shapes give our thoughts their solidity, their ability to hang together even when we hurl them at objects in the outside world that we might otherwise expect to dash them to pieces. Stone fences. Barbecue pits. The tongs used to move the meat about above the fires in the barbecue pits. Soon it becomes obvious that it will never be enough for us to exist inside our own skin. We are expected to occupy other selves as thoroughly as we occupy our own. And yes, we are supposed to ask permission first, but that doesn’t ensure a painless transition. Quite the contrary! There is blood in there and we will, by definition and the laws of physics, displace it. We will take up space previously reserved for nerve fibers and whatever serves as the interior equivalent of a mirror.