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                      the ghost with
                      open wound

I grieve for my stillborn children – the markbook the yinyang learning –
       which were delivered but left in the theatre – ‘how beautiful those
       babies are!’ said the people in the gallery, but the midwife had left
       the room and taken his staff with him

I grieve for the upbringing I gave to them anyway all the thought and
       striving and creativity I put into them lesson after lesson for only
       adventitious and unexpected gain
like a mother from the wrong minority in the wrong neighbourhood
       raising her children to have pride and dignity to have their place in
       this fair and equal society

not openly condemned – ‘for we are a righteous, civil profession’ – but
       silence’d, awkward-ed, false-smile’d, ‘it-must-be-so-difficult’ed, ‘if-
       there-is-anything-I-can-do’ed, ‘how-are-your-children-getting-
while all the newspapers and televisions ask and debate – openly,
       transparently and so very fairly – what exactly these minorities
       contribute to this fine society – which aspires to be an Outstanding
       society, to stand proud in posterity –

              I am Rosa Parks, tired of having to give way although I am
                     sitting on the right seat in Montgomery
              I am Steve Biko still chanting with my bloodied lip face down
                     on the cell floor in Port Elizabeth
              I am Solzhenitsyn blowing warmth onto my hands far far across
                     the Archipelago
              I am the Chilean mother with pictures of my sons tied around
                     my neck in Santiago
              I am a Vietnamese family split up and adrift on several boats in
                     the South China seas
              I am a silent Thich Quang Duc sitting by the Austin
              I am an ex-monk on a tour around the restored Jokhang in
                     Lhasa,              China
              I am a ‘best minds of my generation’ succumbed to madness

and I howl silently against the society that put me in this cell but told me
       I am free, I am tired but push on, ‘even pick up the pace a little
       although, I forget: I am weak, no one cheers me on, others only
       notice when I stumble

twenty years ago I was scurrying around trying to pick up the pieces of
       a dream, but the wind kept blowing them out of my reach as I kept
       bumping into fences and walls ‘stop the wind!’ I complained in
       longer and longer documents although no one would hear me
       through the noise of the machines

ten years ago I offered up a lightweight, latticed bin with which to begin
       tidying up the yard ‘what is he carrying that bin around for while
       we are trying to push all the leaves into one corner,’ they shouted to
       each other from their walls and towers, ‘I wish he’d get out of the

‘but the bin’ I said, something whole integrative dialectical webbed
       adjustable –
                      clamour excitement I could hear the crowd grow to a roar
                      as I ascended the steps, the torch held high I lit the beacon
                            and …
… absolutely nothing. No beacon no crowd no stadium
                      the great roar, the tumult had built and built and –
                            whmmph! –
                      not even an echo remained

Where am I? Was I in that stadium, did I run those steps, was I going to
       light that whole stadium?
Surely I didn’t imagine it all! Surely there were steps, the stadium,
       the beacon, all those people. Surely all those things were there!
       Why else was I carrying the torch?

The torch I kept.   I kept it burning.   I burnt it more and more efficiently
       – clean, pure, bright.   I fashioned a lamp to keep it in.   It sent out
       light beyond itself and I wandered around this bardo.   But most of
       it is gloom: odd voices, odd shadows, strange noises and chants –
       seepeedee, youpee-ess, ay-yeffell, arr-aygee, geetoo-ohpe, errf-
       ormanst, argits-cry, tear-eear.
From time to time I could see people, calling me, to account – I moved
       between them, I held up my lamp – but they couldn’t see me,
       couldn’t hear me.   Then they turned and talked to me they looked
in the eye and told me – so that I understood clearly this was urgent –
       what society needed now, how deficiency was directly related to
       what I –
face fixed eye-contact name at the top of the document   You!   Me?   
       Now!   Already?   Criteria!   But…?   Proe-fesh-shun-all – did and
       what I did not do
and then they would Team me, three more heads turn and fix me, six
       heads – heartbeat, self-conscious ‘I’m noticed at last I’m here’ –
       advance towards me, ‘I can act again’ bear down on me, ‘I know
       I’ll…’ and walk right through me – whuphh, mphhwaphhwumpp,
… agghh!, ‘held up the lamp, almost blew the wick out quick turn it
       down turn away under my coat shield it keep it alive hide it
I am alone again, just the noises, keep it alive hide it keepitalive hideit
       keepitalive hideit

                      I – am – keeping – it – alive – !

space all around no echo no denial no light madness

I saw the ghostly stadium, the neon beacon (‘bulb needs changing.   A
       flame would be much better), people blurring past and through
       me.   I held up my lamp but it lighted up nothing.   People ran
       through it – almost put the flame out.

                                            I died a living
                                            active yet muffled
                                            for ten years twenty
                                            not sure how long
                                            and every so often
                                            I go mad

I have been in, but not part of, the stadium all this time.   It is here, all
       about and above, creaking and flapping, I had thought it didn’t
       exist at all.   It is cardboard and canvas standing up against the
       inevitable winds and snow.   So much construction, so little
       structure, so little warmth.   It is cold here in this wasteland.

I am still cold but I sit to one side now – out of the way – and try to stuff
       my ears to the noises the voices.   I still have a lamp.   I try to keep
       warm by it.

I can’t see them – out in the night and cold – but are there other souls
       wandering, lost, feeling their way?   Is there anybody else out

Please come and join me, over here.   If we sit together I can get quite a
       lot of heat from this lamp.   It is powered by … fire.   Let’s see –
       what wounds have you got?