Here’s to the cheap miracle of the cornea, of the light gotten in and rattling about inside it like quarters in a rusty can. At what point do you learn to embrace the image of yourself you have carried around for thirty years but never really believed, just as you can’t believe in the existence of clouded leopards or people who live their long lives experiencing little or no shame? Who wander around with their gaze aimed straight into the gazes of other people they have never had the opportunity of being properly introduced to. They seem to feel no genuine obligation to lower their eyes to the ground, to sidestep ominous or vaguely threatening strangers in what might pass for an alley in this melodramatic sketch of ours concerning (anachronistically) how one should prefer to be treated, but failing of course to touch on precisely how one should treat others. A sketch with no known origin and no hope (if we are being honest with ourselves) of providing any sort of relief for its readers’ suffering. Someone who owns a sword and has a nearly insatiable craving for licorice promises to teach Kia a number of foolproof techniques for getting what she wants, for fulfilling her least desires. Techniques that involve her mostly in stealing small items of clothing, especially gloves, from those she wishes to affect at a distance. With this purpose in mind, she suddenly begins to try to wrangle a night time invitation to the monk’s bare rooms, to get him to maneuver her safely past whatever security and sophisticated electronic observation has been put into place. But it is obvious the monk has long since turned a corner, and that corner, oddly enough, has another corner just like it within walking distance. She must make do instead with a book of matches she finds in the pocket of his coat, something with a garish red crown reproduced on it and words underneath so miniscule as to cause her to nearly go blind in their deciphering. Someday she will re-live all this in its futility and horror and she will wonder what it was she was hoping to accomplish. She will switch components of the tale around much the way you or I will take the significant portions of our own past lives (most of these moments, I’m willing to wager, lasted, at best, twenty or thirty minutes apiece) and shuffle them, place them where they are needed most – in those otherwise barren stretches that look a great deal like stagnant bodies of water when you see them up close. Because you are forced to. Because there is precious little else to lay your eyes on. A cotton candy machine left over from a time when people in the vicinity apparently consumed cotton candy in much larger quantities than they do today. A wooden bridge with several planks missing from its ancient road bed. If you look up from beneath, from the shallow streambed, you will think for a moment that you are witness to the pulling of the sun itself through a passage narrow as a garter snake. You will thrill momentarily to the knowledge that you are going to go blind. It is inevitable. But then the boulder you are standing on shifts beneath your feet ever so slightly, and, in the process of regaining your balance, of keeping yourself from pitching headlong into one of the countless moss-strewn islands of water standing patient as a calendar between the rocks that surround you, you see the sunlight retreating back up through those warped and splintered boards and farther, to the edges of the sky itself where it can be expected to join up with others of its kind and then fall back again to the Earth where we will be waiting.