Eulalie belittles what she calls my many crises in cosmology, my never-ending search of the heavens or some sign of when we are to depart. Why not make the decision based on the criteria that led to the building of the raft in the first place? Namely a hunch, a whim like that which has us re-upholstering the chairs in the dining room or driving sixty miles to the closest town with a cattle auction in it and an enormous photo on a billboard of the auctioneer himself, a man with stern, marbled eyes magnified two or three dozen times their actual size by the process which puts his image up there on the billboard to begin with, and then by the lenses in his glasses and the extreme refraction of light waves in that part of the world due to an unusually dense atmosphere and pollutants emitted by the chemical plants on the river. His name escapes me but it is associated somehow with the second farthest planet in the solar system and makes grown men tremble when they hear it, especially if they have chronic trouble already with their nerve endings, a common enough complaint when you reach a certain age and you realize you will never again be able to speak with authority about subjects you know virtually nothing about. Those days have receded into the caves where bats in their millions emerge come late afternoon and there is a strange melancholy attached to the near silence that accompanies them. Certainly, you can make out the beating of that many wings and every now and then the barely detectable high-frequency squawks the animals make so as to determine where exactly in space they are at any given moment and whether or not they are in danger of colliding with their fellow travelers or with the concrete edifices we have put in their path. Not intentionally of course, but not without a certain subconscious malice at the heart of it either. The way we do everything. Eulalie grabs a piece of ruled paper and creates intricate and confusing tree graphs in hopes of making me see what I have to this point been missing – the sheer overwhelming number of possibilities at our fingertips if only we can stop staring at our fingertips long enough to recognize them. The sound the locomotive makes at this distance like someone talking in the next room about his love of the Viennese Waltz, his subsequent timid and therefore clumsy attempts at reproducing the footwork. The dreams in which we meet some earlier version of ourselves speaking in riddles we used to know the answer to but which we have since repudiated if only because we no longer find value in riddles, we no longer think of them as keys to unlocking and exposing the delicate, scented paper center of the human mind, but more as something children do to keep themselves occupied, to keep themselves from chasing frogs into the deepest parts of the neighborhood pond, say, and accidentally drowning.