She remembers the voices but not who: the stories they told in which the world melted like a disc of tallow over some unseen flame, in which houses on stilts sank into caverns of mangrove root. A girl— who was it they were speaking to, or of? A girl was pushed out of the door and into the world. Sometimes she sat on a horse with mangy hair, sometimes a hooded figure rode with her on a steed with shiny flanks and jingling bells. The roads led out and out, past orchards late with harvest, only dark shriveled knobs left on the topmost branches. Who was it that locked her in a room choked with dry wheat and wires, then emptied a sack into her lap? O patient, long- suffering soul, the voices croon. All night and all day, plinking each grain like a bead on a thread that spooled and spooled as though it could be a river to the stars. They never stop to ask what sound continues to ring in her ears after the sun goes down: a stone, a button, a silver clasp; a cricket's call, a wing-stroke cleaving air.