lands imagined by eye and ear
One winter noon long ago, I woke under a fresh blanket of snow in the woods I had wandered as a child, my face mashed into the rough bark of a fallen pine, hair matted with sap and the blood of a long gash across my scalp, knees cold and wet, quaking over a bed of broken bottles that stunk of cheap drink. Dizzy and sick, I rolled to my back with the sound of cracking glass and felt something press against my chest.
My eyes were swollen to slits, blind but for a blur of white and diamond light cast in ice across the snow. Still I found a place to slip a few numb fingertips between the buttons of the thick coat that covered me. The coat was not mine, nor was the secret beneath — a soft, palm-shaped pouch upon my heart. It gripped me by the ribs in a mesh of skin-like strings, strong skinny things with fingery tips…