SONG Now a song about predator And prey, their arms race, The savanna where the first work was done-- A small boar-horse, bristly, a precursor Long gone, will evolve bigger and bigger Until the bulb he once couldn't unroot Is now only half his hoof's size. All this To beat death by the pre-tiger, whose teeth Will sharpen and balloon out on his own time. I'm singing that enemies coevolve To each other. I'm here among friends, In my house, we grill steak, we eat, We fight and fuck amongst ourselves. The million-year skeleton held Between two sheets of lava long stone. THE CONGERIES I needed to stock up, so I went to The Congeries. Old Key-Jones was always there. I opened the door; he was straddling his velvet-padded bench, dissecting a computer the size of a watch. --Hello, Andrew, he said. He leaned forward and lit a candle that stuck up out of a tin can --Hello, I said. My bad of tricks is almost empty. --Been useful, has it? He had his jeweller's glasses on. --You wouldn't believe how much. I only have one thing left. --That was a five-fold bag of tricks, if I remember right. So you need…four new things? --That's right. He rose, stretching, cracking his back twice. --Let's see what we can find. He tottered back into the boxes and bicycles, and slid aside a silver curtain. --Why don't you come back here, he said. I think you'd like to see some of this stuff. He was right. I quickly walked over. The room was bulging with shelves of objects. The first thing I saw was a severed hand in a vacuum-sealed case. It was a woman's hand. It was set on a mirror. The hand had been laid palm down, so that its reflection created the illusion of two hands pressed in prayer. And sure enough, it was the hand of a Sweet Saint. A small plaque on the side said: Mathilde of Mansecis, Scorned into Answered Prayer. --She had beautiful hands, Key-Jones said. But she was not beautiful. She was born without eyes, and had a brutally off-kilter face. She was treated very badly; chased out of her home into the hills. Yet she found her way to Caeaen and became a Sweet Saint. You never know, do you? He paused. --Don't ask me how I got it, he said. --How did you get it? He smiled and moved further into the room. He picked up a smooth plastic box from a low shelf. It was cream-colored. It had a large opening on one side. --Go ahead, put your hand in the hole, he said. --Don't hurt me, I said to the box, cautiously slipping my fingers in. There was a kind of plastic glove inside, Which my hand fit into loosely. Key-Jones Pressed a hidden button, and the glove Shrink-wrapped itself around me. --Hold still, he said. Metal feelers came out inside, and held my fingers still. I felt a brief flash of heat, and then a sting on each of my fingertips. Then the machinery and the glove released; I pulled my hand out. There were tiny red tattoos embossed into each of my fingernails: a bull's head, a spoon, an Eiffel Tower, a butterfly, and a hand with outstretched fingers. --They'll last for a few weeks. Enjoy. I smelled my fingernails. A scent like burnt wool. Hmm, I thought.