After I roasted the duck from the family butcher and fed my friends on the first snowy night of the year, I rendered the fat from the skin, pouring the cloudy liquid into a jar. I blitzed the rest of the stale bread into crumb, which I froze. I simmered the carcass with sprigs of parsley and thyme and froze the stock. The liver and giblets are waiting for the pan's philosophy and the poetry of wine. Every organ, every bone, every vein of fat and marrow will have purpose.
Before my labours, I browsed for books about Rome, but I discovered, instead, some novels that I had left behind in the apartment in Salthill. Paper traces of my former life, priced and anonymous, except to me. The way a book's spine had cracked. Childish observations, scribbled in university with a thick blue nib. A dog-eared page . . . ah, yes, I remember why, that phrase, that perfect paragraph, that insight I shall never review after this day.
I stood there for several minutes, remembering Jim as I remember a book, all the phrases of his self intertwined with my self, for better or worse, annotated and underlined and highlighted until the end of my days.