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Soul

We had a visitation from a woman who’d been dead for many years
we felt her presence but see her we could not
heard her voice instructing us to turn
the hand-crank of the projector in the room (there’s always
a room with one) and as the sprockets clicked the flywheels spun
a cone of light (it’s always a cone of light) illumed
a corner of the room where
she appeared
 
like every spirit ought to
we were so bewitched we quite forgot to ask her what the afterlife was like
all the color had been drained from her
like a black and white film

which made us
conscious of the fact that we were all in color though in the dark
and we began to fidget and fret
and mutter to ourselves
 
and then abruptly lost all recollection
at this moment we awake
a gentle rain is falling and we
become afraid our parting will
stop the rain from falling
there in the warm room
in the warmth of the warmth
of the warmth of the room we are
rarely unaware of how we waver

“Soul” © 1999 by Hsia Yü. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Steve Bradbury. All rights reserved.