I was in the old back yard at home and looked up to see a very thin, sprawling tree crown to my right. When I traced its origins against the bright sky downwards, the pencil-thin trunk actually started to my left behind the neighbor’s trailer — the crown was that high. Perched on this wispy, overhanging crown were two large birds I identified as little blue herons. They seemed to be harassing a smaller bird, but when they all flew off with the larger seemingly in pursuit of the smaller, I realized it was likely to be their offspring.
Between the yard and the woods, the lilac bushes had been replaced by a mesh fence, 8–10 feet in height, with white blankets thrown over the black mesh (for privacy?) I looked underneath or through somehow and found a sleeping bag or blankets on the ground, along with some other things that made it appear to be a homeless person’s camp. I must have gotten through the fence somehow because I walked on the bag/blankets, which seemed to be the only way to ascertain that no one was there. I left but turned around and saw something very small moving under the blanket. I wondered what it could be; later when half a wake I thought it must have been an animal. But I still doubted it.
Now some clothes, including an old wool coat of mine, were hung over the fence on the yard side. Like a child I began to fuss that the coat might be stolen and did my dad know that someone was living beyond the screen? I couldn’t tell if anyone around or who I was fussing to. I continued. I said that my dad was [hesitation] 88 years old and shouldn’t have to put up with uncertainty and fear, and then I remembered that he had died. I remembered my mother, who was 80-some years old, but the fact that I couldn’t remember her age reminded me that she had died at age 64, years ago.
Although I had felt that there had been someone there to whom I’d been speaking, I knew now that I was always utterly alone. I felt the weight and despair of a bleak reality keeping me alive enough to suffer. I looked over the mesh fence hoping to see the tops of the group of trees that filtered just enough sunlight to dapple their comforting shade. Instead, there was the painfully clear sunlight of a high alien sky — and a row of housetop peaks. The woods were gone, and so was my home, the only place that had ever touched my heart.