You naturally think none of this can happen, no consciousness in the grub or maggot, none in the the fallen bird, the grain of wood, the drowned boy. And yet for all of your life you have wondered, redeeming that word: a wonder.

What the world knows without us. A pang of remorse after snuffing the ant, a lingering melancholy as the jaunty wires of the daddy longlegs fold beneath a scuffing foot, the soft pellet of the knowing body smearing into liquid. You think only boys feel this? So be it, this was a boy who floats now like a sunless leaf.

A wonder. Do we live beyond our breath?

The fascination of maggots, which should be god's brightest creatures in some other telling, corpulent and bright, all one mind. The tern you watched until the fear made you turn away. Solitary on a forlorn rock, squawking at the unrelenting wind, wings rusted, feet scummed, clear dark eye upon you. This is life for some creatures.

He feels the hot knife and the lonesome scream of the man in the blue mountains, feels the woman's eyes like searchlights, listening within, floats beneath the water lily and the green skim of water chestnut.