7

 At a planetary exhibit, with detailed pictures and models of the moon, its geological history, the impact of asteroids that created the lunar seas. I examine these. I talk with a woman about the exhibits, flirting with her. At a model of Saturn, someone asks "Can you see the rings edge on?" and I say "Yes, you can..." and lean forward to demonstrate. The rings narrow slowly and brush against my hand as I reach out to them, millions of tiny particles hurtling by, deflected as a delicate grainy spray...
 As I leave a bookseller's stall I see a Southwesterner's translation of Dante, a kind of prospector's Divine Comedy narrating the search for gold in Arizona. The frontispiece is a map of New Mexico, Colorado and Utah; the text is all in Spanish or Italian, with copious footnotes and commentary. There are colored line illustrations throughout, one of them a frontal view of a lovely small adobe mission with a hill in the background and on the top of the hill a cross. The drawing is beautifully done, delicately detailed. I remark to Sera that the mission still looks just like that and if we have the chance we should go see it...
 I unfold a large and very colorful map of southern Europe. Switzerland and Austria seem to be blank, but all of Italy and the Balkans are detailed with cities and intricate topographic colors. I think that borders are always placed where people don't live, along mountain ridges or rivers. The map is decorated with words in large yellow letters; someone says they are the name "Nabokov" transliterated into unfamiliar languages (such as "Tchnonin" or "Novobiov"). They are scattered upside down or at odd angles in blank areas of the map. I puzzle over these and try to pronounce them...
 I walk down the stream and reach the turn at the fence. Stone basins are stacked here, as if in storage; I notice the stone is reddish pink. I jump the fence and stride through grassland and trees again. It is a radiantly sunny day. I'm wearing a dark suit, tie and dress shoes, to negotiate terms or proclaim an edict to a group of criminals. I approach a large white wooden house with a screened-in porch overlooking an unmowed back yard. The house is filled with people, men and women, drinking and talking as at a large party. I look down to my left hand; I am carrying a black plastic container somewhat like a postal letter tray, but it is empty. The tray should contain a document of some kind but I don't know what and I don't know how I lost it or whether it was ever there to begin with. Even so, I enter the house and begin speaking with people there; they seem displeased to see me and by gathering around try to prevent my meeting with the group leader or leaders. But I am not afraid...