At the lowest stratum of Troy, beneath the Skaean Gates and broken dishes and bronze flakes as brittle as fallen leaves, Schliemann found a pair of toads in hibernation since the time of Hector and Andromache. To think of what survives!
Rough Patch Rough Patch
You can tell, by symptoms of neglect, something of his circumstance: the chipped and buckled eaves, deflated jack-o-lantern beside the stoop, an ember under snow, or red ants swarming the sill, crossing a line of cinnamon in some far-flung military action. You can tell, by frying onions, their thick domestic weather, or the grim satisfaction with which his vacuum overlooks a plain of fur and dust. I can tell from a little just what a whole lot means. You treat me like somebody you ain't never seen. Hackle stacker, mayfly cripple, and Bloom's parachute ant crowd an ashtray—to rarify the quality of failure. Mornings, a frowzy Manx kneads his chest with claws unsheathed, thrumming with desire and contempt in equal measure. Every other weekend, he rolls out a court-appointed cot from the closet for his daughter. You can feel, with your fingertips against his metal door, vibrations from the interstate or seismic evidence of Furry Lewis, circa 1928.
Set Apart Set Apart
Set apart from the compound friction of forest, a rough-barked bur oak, mostly trunk, outlives its understory. A sapling in 1700, it rose like smoke from leaf litter, a totem for those who told tales vertically, every episode the offspring of earth and sky. Carotenoids flare through its vascular system in slow time, releasing aromas of black tea and tobacco. Winter-hardened, the oak endures, a column supporting nothing but its own fixed extension. The fine point of a feeding warbler-- a drifting spark or cursor-- ghosts its crown.