In a small town you can hear the rupture of sledgehammers on rock, the suck of mud at the bottom of a creek as the water drains away after months of rain. Your mother hears from the one- eyed pawnbroker that her ruby pendant and gold-plated chain are safe with him; and that the man who brought them there has been put to work in a farm. In such a town, a group of black-shirted birds plays chess under willows in the park. The oldest philosopher is a pine tree; how wise it is to keep its own counsel as one war follows another, as the young descend the mountains to the city, then return when all their faith has run out. The future continues to row its flat- bottomed boat on the lake, sometimes stirring the water with only one oar so it goes around in small circles.