Somewhere in the thicket empty bottles sing in the wind. We barter for necessities with iron goods and villanelles composed on the spot, expecting a response somewhere between awe and condescension. We get nothing of the sort. Just more lists with items on them we do not recognize. Actions requiring little investment of time and no resources whatsoever. I begin to suspect a conspiracy and elbow those closest to me in the ribs so as to catch their attention, but none of them is interested in what I have to say. The replica triremes are anchored in the harbor and the wait is already closing in on half a day to tour them. Time is of the essence. Kia, duly transformed and enormous now, breathing fire, crawls her way up the outside of the belfry where the monk has hidden himself beneath the bell, thinking, no doubt, that whatever he has seen previously in his dreams he has seen for some reason, that his dreams are harbingers of good fortune and ought therefore to be paid strict attention to, at least until something better comes your way. Something involving innocuous flying insects, butterflies, say, in the meadow, and narcotics. The additional weight brings the structure down and there is a conflagration sufficient to melt flesh, human or otherwise. Imagine the panic inside that bell! The realization of something too late and the white hot dome. For years afterward, the story makes its rounds, serves as warning and edification in spite of its own very different aesthetic aspirations. Eulalie says to me once we have finished, once we have found our way satisfactorily to a conclusion, Your tendons are showing, Bucket! Your malleability seems to have reached its tensile limits! What I wouldn’t do for an hour straight of that laughter, the genuine good humor originating in the oft-beleaguered spleen! The skies close in overhead, become a carp belly replica of themselves and remind us both that the time for recitation is over and the time for invention has yet to begin. In the meantime we might as well chew our leaves. Those with medicinal properties, those possessing compounds sufficient to make the mind transport itself elsewhere for the remainder of the evening and which Eulalie keeps wadded up in the front pocket of her overalls whenever she chooses to wear overalls, as opposed to something elegant like that strapless blue number that causes my flesh to stand on end the second I lay eyes on it, but makes for enormously slow going – so she informs me later -- whenever she is traipsing through the forest that permanently separates the place where she lives from the place where I do. Or at least that place where I tend, for now, a fire and, down the hill, a patch of wild thyme and blackberries.