Watch, sometime, the sparrows, like worried nuns in their medieval hoods, collect on the power lines, then flee the dusk gathering over the shoulders of a town like the one just passed by the bus you boarded hours ago. See how night first furs the edges of buildings, then shepherds each thing completely unto itself. And the lights tick on, making the sky glow false in that nearly forgotten and ancient conspiracy of men to fashion a home out of darkness. Maybe you, too, would press your face to the oily window and try to make out those true constellations, a figure there, above, that you might hold in your arms like a stranger on the eve of this new year you didn’t ask for, and so far from where you began you don’t know it anymore, except by the dull, congenial letters you sometimes get. Night passes slowly, and you let go and turn to the woman sitting next to you, watching. She’s short, plump at the ankles, with the scent of gin coming off her teeth, and little thrift in the sudden, though expected, kiss spent on your lips that pull back and smile, too quickly, and a little ashamed already of what you will whisper, later, in the welcomed dark, when being alone will no longer seem an issue of grace or dignity, just a wretchedness of skin left untouched too long. Later, in the first pink of the morning, it will be an emblem of stubborn beauty that will surprise you — her ear, a curl of potter’s clay, little cone of abalone, or a fairy’s horn, fallen — just then — empty and glowing on the pillow. Mercy, you’ll say, though you’ll know it’s not enough.