MARIGOLD WOMAN: The color of these words is the color of old sidewalk

We meet again, my loves my lo ammi, in this strained and stained old café where we have always been, no matter how many miles we drove, our wheels thrumming desperately and futilely against the blacktop in the black land with that black-eyed curlicue ghul waiting to welcome us—until the day that he welcomed us no more.

It seems inconceivable that so much has changed and yet nothing has changed. The sunlight cuts through the trees in the same way. The mountains of God brood in the distance in the same colors. The wind speaks in the same inviting voice.

I have seated myself in a chair, drumming my fingertips against the metal top of the unstable table, the lines on my arms fading in reality but not in thought. I feel my unruly hair at my cheeks. No, I feel the flaps of my cap at my cheeks. No, I do not know what I feel.

I am somewhere far inside this small and fragile shell, and I can no longer be sure of what sits on the surface. I am somewhere far inside a blue hole; there is a skim of sunlit water above, but it is camouflage—smiling, conversing, competent camouflage—hiding but poorly the cold fathoms.

I am somewhere inside here. I am where the ghul left me.

So come, my loves my lo ammi, sit down and we will see what happens. We will consult the books of the dead and see if they will bring me back. We will listen to the words I propel through the lips of this thing I inhabit, and see if they mean anything.

I am somewhere inside here, I promise.