In a farmhouse on the edge of Eguisheim, I sleep to the creak of crickets. They sing the song of Granny’s rocking chair, of rusty hinges, of grinding teeth.
The crickets are still carousing when I leave the farmhouse and set out through the vineyards above the village. Debauched poppies sway to the crickets’ listless fiddling. In gowns of rumpled silk and crushed chiffon, the poppies nod, drowsy under the lavish sun. Like a stalker, I follow them up the hill. Their drunken opulence, their vermillion thrill, their narcotic scarlet—it’s too high-proof for a weedy wallflower like me. All I want is their afterglow. If I rubbed it into my skin, it would be armor and perfume, balm and bait.
Where the slopes steepen, the vineyards give up, turning their backs on the forest that swarms the hilltop. I climb to the crest, where three castles stand watch, each tower gaunt and empty as Yorick’s skull. Every brick is large enough to be a child’s coffin, and the walls are so thick they could entomb a whole kindergarten.
My mind has a dystopic slant and my imagination thrives on apocalypse, so castle ruins are my natural habitat. When civilization short circuits and the world’s cities are just so many burnt-out lightbulbs, you will find me playing Lady Macbeth amongst ruined spires and candle-stubs. I will crown myself in poppies and wear their fire in my hair.