A Ship's Whistle Years passed and I received no letter with the word “trombone”. The distant cousins wrote, offered their shriller sympathies. “What’s wrong with us?” Nothing I knew. Plugboard and isinglass, grimoire and cwm, friends all. Still I felt horribly alone. Until one day it dropped through roundel light onto the mat. I was tearing my dictionaries of hope—who, why, and what— apart when it sounded, that note pressing for home. Trombone. And fearing it a dream was like waking in the wrong room, not daring to believe in your return, or having come to my senses after sickness. Veneer, mirror, and comb: objects that shivered as relief swelled under them, they drew lots to be turned to words which, soon as said, I knew were brass. Years sliding past alone until—avast!—trombone.