LAST NIGHT I DREAMED of a golden cobra, this after a long arduous journey to get back home after a scientific conference in Berlin. The rest of my colleagues had to board some roundabout flight to New York via Cincinnati, and I was left at the docks with my suitcase trying to see if there was any kajut or cabin available on the next ship to Riga. There was, but there was a long line in the sweltering heat, with an end-of-times, overcast humidity over the whole scene, as if we were waiting to board the Lusitania or Titanic. When I did arrive home, the small golden serpent was in the fireplace, like a kind of mechanical trinket or new toy. It began to hiss at me, and I somehow heard a rattle, though cobras do not rattle, or maybe that was the slink of its golden scales? Too often in times of peril I dream of serpents. But what to do about the cobra? I asked all my friends, and they told me to let it free in a marsh somewhere. I had no idea about the impact on wildlife, or if golden cobras could self-reproduce? Hissing, hissing. I mulled it over. What to do about the little snake? Then at the window, another story played out involving a man who fell in love and turned into a little bird. But the heat of the love was so strong it burned him from the inside out until his wings were charcoal and his eyes burned like embers. Burned from the inside out by love. And still the golden cobra in the fireplace, slithering in circles and rings. I had grown attached somehow to the treasure of a thing, there was a fondness, but I had to let it go. There was just no other remedy.