A quiet afternoon. I’m listening to my dad and grandmother sort photographs, their heads bent over a work table that is dwarfed by two big plastic tubs of loose pictures. “Now what year was that again?” I hear drifting out of the next room. I’m sitting at the dining table writing, trying to take full advantage of this, my actual time off. I’m trying to get to a place where I can concentrate on doing what it is that I want to do, without being distracted by email and internet and a thousand crowding lists and the phone and relatives with long southern drawls. I’m trying to remember that I won’t have this much free time in the new year, I need to do it now. I’m trying to shape the words like sculpture out of rough blocks of stone, a feature emerging, a left foot.

This is a terrible place to write (for I have no headphones or other ways to quell distraction), but I’ve been to worse. Everyone is gone now except for the three of us; I’m here for another day and a half, and then off to London. By tomorrow I’ll be settled in a routine here, and it won’t be terrible at all; and then I’ll leave again.

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