Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching through the snow, the insignia on their shoulders of uncertain origin, a country I could not be sure of, a salute so terrifying I heard myself lying to avoid arrest, and was arrested along with Jocko, whose tear had snapped off, a tiny icicle he put in his mouth. We were taken to the ice prison, a palace encrusted with hoarfrost, its dome lit from within, Jocko admired the wiring, he kicked the walls to test the strength of his new boots. A television stood in a block of ice, its blue image still moving like a liquid center. You asked for my innermost thoughts. I wonder will I ever see a grape again? When I think of the vineyard where we met in October-- when you dropped a cluster custom insisted you be kissed by a stranger-- how after the harvest we plunged into a stream so icy our palms turned pink. It seemed our future was sealed. Everyone said so. It is quiet here. Not closing our ranks weakens us hugely. The snowflakes fall in a featureless bath. I am the stranger who kissed you. On sunny days each tree is a glittering chandelier. The power of mindless beauty! Jocko told a joke and has been dead since May. A bullethole in his forehead the officers call a third eye. For a month I milked a barnful of cows. It is a lot like cleansing a chandelier. Wipe and polish, wipe and polish, round and round you go. I have lost my spectacles. Is the book I was reading still open by the side of our bed? Treat it as a bookmark saving my place in our story. (here the letter breaks off)
I am going to die.
No such thought has ever occurred to me
since the beginning of my exclusive time
in air, when God, having made my mind,
first began to wrap it, slowly and continuously,
in strips of linen soaked in a special admixture
of rosewater, chicken fat, and pinecones
studded with cloves to stop them from dripping.
Nor is it likely I would ever have had such a thought
in the time required by Him to finish the job,
if someone else had not first introduced the thought
into the process, thereby interrupting it,
however briefly. But who?