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The nurse rubs a cold gel on my head before she attaches the electrodes.

“Relax!” she says.

My hair is glued together. My temples burn.

“Are you asleep yet?”

Each electrode is an orchard planted into my head. The roots clasp at my brain stem. The woodpeckers drum the dead trees. Nothing has grown. Only shreds of thoughts. Only fragments. Only noise. Viscera of a bird on my hands. Your shaven hair next to the man’s hair on the tiled floor. A whale carrying her dead calf around for weeks.

My mother’s hands put a wet towel on my fevered forehead.

 “Are you asleep?”

The birds are migrating in the sky. First there are only gulls. Then there are more birds. Geese. Storks. Pelicans made of paper. People are on the streets. It’s a carnival. When I pass by you and the man, you pretend we don’t know each other.

Paper birds turn into ash. It is snowing and the snow covers everything.

I follow your footprints on the snow.

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