In Manchuria, I sat up half the night
with the Emperor’s consul, observing with contempt
the vacuum sea of planetary break-ups,
and other transient phenomena.
The movements of living beings
in our resettlement campaigns
had no external references
to the positions of the comfort-women.
Their melodies were ‘sighed for’.
Moon Mountain above the Nu Jiang Gorge,
tortoise clouds, the network delta of lakes
and extremes of the seasonal,
bore an authentic authorial haunting.
The shamans there maintain that ghosts,
in search of human victims, are attracted
to those whose souls have been fractured –
these, dishonoured in the Kiao-Chow raids,
ending here at our whim, under a sky
full of absolutes.
We agreed such things must be accepted,
these tendencies towards flesh and rage.
Both of us a little drunk perhaps,
he said he sometimes recalled an image
from a former posting – one midnight, losing count
of the arrests, his old friend Arturo Mauritius
spiriting integers across the municipal gardens.