They carried the baby bird wrapped in a yellow, flowered handkerchief. Its eyes bulged behind their closed lids and its prickly down barely covered the stubs of its wings. The wrinkly peach flesh was damp with perspiration and plant juice. It choked and twitched feebly, beak broken open.

“We’re going to operate now,” said the little girl in the red corduroy dress. Her glossy, black shoes were scuffed and muddy and her little white tights had been ripped by the holly bush. There were no lights in the attic but the mother had given them three candles with the stipulation that Make Believe was not allowed to knock the candles over and burn the house down.

The two girls scooted past boxes and trash bags filled with grown up things and tiny baby things from times they could not remember. They were like bright fishes, easily distracted by strange colors and strange noises. They crawled on three child’s paws: two dirty knees apiece, one dirty hand apiece, tipped with chewed nails.

“On the operating table,” said the little girl in the red dress. She snatched the handkerchief from her companion and slammed it down on one of the boxes.

“Scalpel!” she cried.

Her companion picked up the handkerchief and lifted it to her nose. There was something there that reminded her of earthworms and pill bugs, like the juice that dripped from the knife to the kitchen floor, like the scolding she received when she stayed out in the sandbox past lunchtime. She reached into the pocked of her blue shorts and held out a sprig of holly.

Body is a road. Body is a moment on the road. Body is a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road where beyond the road snarls at the dying season.

To build an altar you need the familiar territory of a dry riverbed and the shadow of a nuclear power plant. You need the roar of a siren on the air, the highway in the distance, the skull of a kingfisher and the footprints of someone you don’t love anymore. You need a stone from a hand that killed in a war far from home, knucklebones that know the fractals of a willow branch and all the sounds of breaking. You need the smells of honeysuckle, salt, and gunpowder, a piece of iron if you’re superstitious. You need the oil slick iridescence of a cockroach wing and a lock of your mother’s hair. You need the cornerstone of a place that makes you feel safe, even if that place isn’t really a place but a scrap of paper or the empty air. You need a poem written by someone you haven’t met yet.

10:15 p.m. the sun never sets. Clear sky blazing like a promise. People who are used to this kind of thing have it easy. I’m not used to it at all and I think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The sky, I mean. Of course, it’s a living, breathing metaphor for everything coming to an end. Or a false promise. All I know is the haunted clock tower I pass by every night on my way to work is beautiful too, even with the evaporating ghosts. Yes, I’m still walking to work even thought I don’t have to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually go to work, I just want to get away from everyone. It’s nice, even with the smashing and the sunlight. I’m still breathing. The sun is still up there. It’s not going to go away.