It was her turn. She took her around the domed greenhouse, pointing out the vegetation, the lush palms with their pronged ears. Sunlight streamed in. It was late afternoon. A dying summer. The invalids were walking back and forth in slippers, their hands clasped behind their backs or in front, as if bound or preparing for prayer. Sometimes, one would pass her, their eyes open, but asleep, it seemed, clouded over with blue and milky white. It was always startling. Their silence was startling. Who knew that silence could interrupt you.

Do you see that one? she would say, the bright feathers offensively vivid. The woman would stare, saying nothing, not even the one word she knew. Silence was power. The birds flew back and forth in the glass space, crying raucously and if she thought about it for awhile, she imagined what they looked like from the outside; small miniatures that walked about on the tiny sharp gravel and this thought interested her, made her aware of her body as it traveled along the small paths, as if someone were watching.

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