The banker who owns the stars took me to his observatory on a hill outside Rome. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘that one is where I will live and that one is for my daughter and that one where my wife will live.’ ‘Do people who have no money also go to stars after they die?’ I ask. ‘Of course,’ he shrugs calmly, ‘they will have to spend their time with the worms but nothing stops a federation of them owning a share in a star. The worms too have their shimmering presence laced in the stillness above and, besides, who can say how many emperors’ stars have followed the laws of combustion, dwindling away in the cavalcade of what we can only call the wounds in brightness.’ ‘Will the sky and the stars end?’ I ask him. He is silent and pulls from his pocket a heavy golden watch within which can be seen smaller golden watches each containing more watches and the last, the smallest, specks of gold sand. The banker is a sober citizen who regulates the profit and loss of the journey. His immense computations are held in a wooden drawer where wands of mercury assess their truth. Now on his outstretched hand specks of brightness are multiplying and I no longer know what is the sky, what the hand, what the unstated sanctuary of luminous decomposing soil.