Waiting outside the museum now closed, 5am or so, the one I have been inside of for the last three days, mostly, listening to eleven talks after my own, waiting for another writer to come down to join me, who spoke of the ashes of the body as like pebbles, while with another one I walk over some and that was the sound said to be never heard on the other coast, of our country.

They had been friends, and I was here because of a book I wrote in part once feeling I had been sold short, before when other writers gathered to memorialize as much as celebrate the writer who shook air in the room, taught herself languages from books to open into other worlds, as she has done now for me and before the book published by the one I was on the plane with there at the gate, before the two trains, one switched for another, having us to taxi to a hotel with paper-thin walls through which I heard one talking to a child back home, at the end of the first day, “my” day, explaining the next, a big day for the one on the phone reading chapters from the life, early life, a book in progress, before the one who put up a chart to help explain how we could only hope to “adequately,” not meant meanly, read her and even this would be a challenge.

“Identity, fragile, gives way to identity,” one quotes, quoted, after key left at the front desk like supposed to be done when gone out, they being twenty-four hours, halting language, before I think on the plane back a polite term of address must exist, something to think about, not madam or sir, to work upon surely, for all of us, even those of us who knew the language one where such difference did not exist—though still so few of us—she was drawn to.

Each brings a specialty, of sorts, one whose brain does not shut off, one the work finds, here in the memorials of battlegrounds, some flames fanned again. One of us disappears after a day or two, or in the end just not there to be seen.

Chocolates on the plane after the taxi to the train, after the day after the first day, the night I talked, before the morning I had been thinking of one, before blue flagstones paved to the porcelain factory were pointed out to me in a kindness of orientating, what room was the one from which the originator of the principality would take to radiating out from there, a view once returned to each morning, like in those quiet hours this morning I had begun to write, the mind still still and woke with those returning from bars not confronting but giving a berth, saying words way said, us in having been making a place for her making places for selves.

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Douglas A. Martin is the author most recently of a novel, Once You Go Back (Seven Stories Press), nominated for a Lambda Award in the Gay Memoir/Biography category and recorded as an Audibletitle. His other books include: Branwell, a novel of the Brontë brother (Ferro-Grumley Award finalist); They Change the Subject, a book of stories (including Pushcart Prize nominated “An Escort”) named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year in the San Francisco Bay Times; and In the Time of Assignments, a collection of poetry. He is also a co-author with friends of the haiku year. His first book of prose, Outline of My Lover, was named an International Book of the Year in The Times Literary Supplement and adapted in part by The Forsythe Company for the live film ballet “Kammer/Kammer.” His work has been translated into Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. As a critic, his pieces have appeared in such volumes as Anne Carson: Ecstatic Lyre and Biting the Error: Forty Writers Explore Narrative. Raised in Georgia, he now lives in New York and divides time between Brooklyn and upstate.

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