On an inside day in November, a smoke and cider day Burton Glass found a white greasy kiss stamped against the black post of the sunporch he was painting at the shore off-season in Rehobeth.

    It pleased him. Look at that, he said.

    He worked facing the sea, which today was friendless dulled by emptiness and an early winter. He saw only where his brush pointed, where the textures changed. In the cold his hands were dumb animals, struggling and stupid, pushing against their task. He wanted them to be stronger, to remember a better day, remember a woman or a fire. His leather gloves made him feel clumsy so he took them off after the first few strokes.