Preserved, a precious crust of minerals caught in the burnished arch of her flank as if in anticipation of a corpse. The beach would make a lonely resting place, if that were indeed where she were to die: clouds roll overhead, their dim shadows flexing across the contours of sand. There is no other but her, and only by the mercy of the water, is she saved. Gentle waves carry the heavy skull, and abandon it to the cradle of the shallow incline of the shore, sinew'd limbs tucked to her underbelly and eyes closed. Scabbed across damp tress, a mere remnant of the ocean's embrace and the many miles it had borne her from the shores of her exile, salt glistens in the weave of her burnished coat -- the woman reeks like driftwood, cast-off and worn and lost. All the things the world had made of her. The islands welcome her not by choice, but duty: she is a wanderer, as they a haven for the lost. Let the refugee find safety in the roots of their earth, if only for the moment before she wakes. The scenes captured behind those closed eyes are long and wearying, dark and haunting as the cavern that she dreams of. Thunder, a scream of air struck apart, snaps at her heels, and deeper she tumbles amidst the grime and smooth rock. Yet consciousness works into the fringe of illusion, and the kohl of her lash trembles with drawn skin. Light hazes beneath a cataract of sleep, and early day withdraws her from slumber in a halting drag. Sodden and cold in the weak sun of morning -- the feline contracts each toe, a demand of obedience from each limb that is greeted by groggy complaints. ( Your body is tired. Let it rest. ) But her mind, sharp even in the cloud, the confusion, of her ordeal, runs ahead. Mismatched eyes peer at the sheets of sand laid undisturbed before her with little trust, as if they were bound to disappear at any moment. Like a new born babe, she takes a step and then another, and turns to stare back at the water from which she had been delivered. The world is quiet. Perhaps she is, at last, alone.