A slow day in a small country. No business to speak of. A kid or two dispatched this way on account of the Small Planet guidebook's mention of the ornate tilework and the oaken plumbing lined with copper. One is happy to receive the living, especially the young. Occasionally one or another of them will ask to have his picture (or hers) taken in a casket. He is happy to oblige them when he can. They assume the most serene expressions, not unlike the studies of the dead which were a staple of photography at its dawning, especially on certain frontiers.

One tries to keep almond cookies for the tourists, set orange peels on the woodstove as a sort of incense to ward off the smell of death and enbalming fluid. Play recordings of sprightly music, country dance tunes or a Romany guitar. Ours is a tourist economy the ministry of finance keeps reminding us in its newsletters.

March has marched on, past the ides, solstice and saints days in the space between sentences, a comet by happenchance likewise, daffodils moving closer to some statement of difference.