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At the Arts Council in Manchester

November 9, 2017

And to think I was just about to complain
About the weakness of the coffee when
my head turned through the glass to
witness the hearse arguing in traffic.

It was a standoff for sure. I knew this when
death itself gave up its ghost to breathe beside
me awhile, to show patience. There was no rain,
wind or violins. England will never be mine.

A gold coffin the size of a malt loaf, vibrating
with the anxiety of the driver’s peddled footwork,
the cortege behind damming the day to wails.
Grief as performance art said a colleague.

The ghost recounted the story of how I had a sister.
Things would have been better, it whispered.
She had a name, Teresa, she was older than me,
lived three days, it’s all mathematics, apparently.

What would my parents have talked about
on that morning of the funeral? Would they
have held hands, was the radio on? I’ve always
hoped for love on the settee through the tears.

The ghost sipped my coffee, made a face
of disdain. The hearse pulled away to Piccadilly,
a parade to disbelief. I returned to my
meeting, the one about tangible outcomes.

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