There is a certain bitter wind here, the trees stripped of their leaves and dying now, and I am left to wander alone through dust and stone and other misery. And yet I do not despair, for I know above all who I am, holding steady in my own mind the image of my own face and knowing it will always and still be mine, despite there being no silvered glass or stilled or moving water to cast myself back to me. But still I know who I am, and know as well the way this knowledge gathers itself warmly in my eyes to offer itself to others, if there still remain others ever to be found. I have nothing else beyond the clothes on my back and my walking stick, the latter torn from a dying tree and picked clean of branchlets and then rubbed smoothed over days with the palms of my hands. It conforms exactly to my grip and has become a part of me: in the image of my own face that I see in my own mind it is there as well, just beside my ear, attentive and human. I do not yet despair. For now, it is enough for me to travel in company with myself alone, to fix upon the image of myself in my own mind and project it onto the horizon and let this draw me forward and on. I shall watch myself, and lead myself on. I will not blink. I shall not yet despair.
Brian Evenson is the author of seven books of fiction, most recently The Open Curtain (Coffee House Press), which was chosen as a Best Book of the Year by Time Out New York and is a finalist for the Edgar Award. He directs the Literary Arts Program at Brown University and is a Senior Editor for Conjunctions magazine.