The violinist who retired to find spring in a tulip garden says to his protégé an artist only needs three things: work, work, and work. I chew the truthfulness of this; discover an aftertaste of rot. In my dreams I see empty Viennese streets, espresso topped with clouds of cream, childhood loves never consummated. Running away is as easy as a kiss. I never get over the loss of them—the kisses, the loves, the Viennese streets. Instead, I send too many letters scrawled out in black ink. My hand cramps every night on the floor of a house where I am only an interloper, though the post office is overworked and any other form of communication would be more expedient, more courteous, simpler. I find love notes bleeding from closed doors. I find love letters on my skin, like this burn mark; I opened the wood stove to put another log in. Leaned forward and the door pressed quick to my chest. The low slope of my cardigan left me exposed. The skin peels like parchment. Pinks and grows sores. I flake the dead skin with the back of my thumb, thinking that it is easier to ask my husband to leave for a night, than to ask him to love me a little more. I get back to my letter writing—to my playing at being sophisticated—mix red wine with Campari and citrus soda. Garnish with an orange and measure the colour against the thick of my wrist. I begin to think I am only talking to myself. But still, I strip the covers from the bed, searching: where are all the letters written to him? The record of past years folded into neat little squares. God knows I have my share. I want to find a secret big enough to keep. Instead, this self sacrificial night becomes one long pause. A scratch in the record. The sound is snow soft in my ears. Last night, do you remember, espresso powder exploded everywhere—on the counter, my sweater, across the sink. Today I found more black grit. I dabbed it with a paper towel thinking work, work, work. Later, I found the powder under my nails. Later, I found black ink burrowed in my fingertips. Much to my desperation, I find that although I am an artist, I need more than three things.