[The expedition begins]
I learned to name objects by feel. Grass has many secrets. Certain shallow grooves meant the tree would betray me. A scaly bark meant callousness, refusal. I bent close to the ground to be near the earth. Some moss was soft as gosling feathers, though I knew better than to lay my head down. I had been warned by the locals to resist tiredness. After thunderstorms clouds could turn to falling rocks. I strapped soft bags of water on my back. I would need to learn to half-sleep standing up, always alert for the leaf that could fell me.
The expedition would take years. The locals told me I was the first woman they’d seen alone.
[Inside the canyon are many echoes]
They told me to keep running
until I saw a shining-sign
that would have a map
to the glass carnival. Each time
I almost reached the sign,
it faded further into the distance
like a metal mirage. I painted
my eyelids into bright finches.
I tried to trick the sky and
the machines above the clouds.
Across the river floated an enormous
marble head with missing eyes.
A single chair stood on the riverbank.
When I sat down my hands
turned into paper boats.
The sun set like wingless birds.
[The glass carnival]
Everyone in this new city lives in hospitals.
The buildings are sheets of glass. Sky-patterns
move slowly across the windowed-walls,
a moving lake. The hospital rooms are like
terrible elevators. Everyone eats through tubes
attached to their stomachs, a thick off-white
formula pushes through their bodies
all night. Their hands reach for me as I walk
out the door. I have searched everywhere
for food but the stores are like coffins.
Farms haven’t existed for years, are mere
memory-relics. I have one cup of rice left.
A wolf started following me today. I felt
her sharp movement behind me all afternoon.