Whatever owls and storks inhabit this town are still. No nightingales warble and trill. I cross the meadow and the Orbieu River and climb toward the stone and shuttered town. My own sharp footsteps. A few thin lights. No traffic. No one but me out walking. It occurs to me that I don’t know the dangers here. But they’ve had centuries to clear the landscape of poisons, shoot the dangerous animals and display them in the town square. And by now the race of evil men John Locke wanted to protect us from has surely been reduced to a reclusive, shamed population on an island somewhere. The night is mostly a dark vagueness. The night is mostly imagined, a thin cobblestone street curving between stone buildings. Buildings built and rebuilt and added to. The layers of history. The shop now a bed & breakfast, the pasture, a campground. Mostly, though, a settled beauty: narrow streets, houses, an occasional lit window, lace curtains, nobody awake reading Proust on the divan or slicing truffles and parmesan in the kitchen. Where the road edges the river, an engine idles, three men smoke and talk softly, in utter darkness.
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