On a bright day the package arrived. The long letter was folded in thirds and sealed with poured-on wax. Her black ink writing quivered across the page in tendrils. In the margins was scrawled a picture of the clay figure she’d made, compacting white dirt from her
yard with water, round ball taking shape between nimble fingers. The creature was an homage to a pet gerbil from years past, and also something entirely imagined. The long tail had split from the body on its voyage, as she’d expected. I peered into the scratches marking its eyes and could not bear to name it and make it knowable. I rubbed its body, my thumb starting behind two ears and tracing the curve of its back. Four legs curled beneath its flank. I held it up to my mouth and intoned, o amulet, o inanimate protector.