My bags were there on arrival, but no one who seemed to be looking for me. Walked outside and then back in. Was standing by a counter to wait when a man approached and searched my eyes with craned neck for several long seconds, maybe a minute, as if studying the contents of an empty tin can. Are you . . . Then he drove like the wind, circumventing Edinburgh, until we reached the narrow country roads that curved past the bridge at Lasswade and the pub called Laird and Dog. Past sheep in pastures and a few horses. Past row houses and a sign to a school,
Then a sharp right turn through an iron gate and down a narrow lane thick with trees. Then the pink stone brick of the castle walls. Quiet. Still. Green. Through a passage and into a garden, where the first thing I noticed was a tall bronze stag.
Up a winding stone staircase, narrower than the steps to the Plath study at Yaddo, round, not square, as if mounting the steps of a tower, to my room at the end of the hall. A plaque on the door inscribed with the names of others before me, Sebastian Barry, Caryl Phillips, and on.
The sash window opens. The sound of the River Esk below and the wind in the trees. A bird call. At midnight the moon broke through the clouds.