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Oakwood Cemetery, Austin, by kissingtoast, flickr

We think you should know, but you do, don’t you, dear ones, ones who have passed on, ones who now live in the street, ones who have killed and molder in prison, ones who live in underground spaces forgotten under cities until money and children and food go missing, until abandoned houses are destroyed, until libraries parks and public places reek of unseemliness, we will never leave you, the representatives of who you were before you were placed on operating tables, drilled clean through your skull, hammered through your eye socket, shocked with insulin and electricity, precious memories flying, shrieking, from your skin, old personalities, pleasures, predilections lingering saddened, forlorn, in corners of the operating room.

See? The doctors and nurses and orderlies said. We don’t have to put them in cages. Look! We don’t have to put them in straight jackets. No longer the padded cell! And yet we said to you, we pointed this out dear ones: Your tongues are now so jammed in your mouths you can barely speak.  They congratulate themselves, the nurses, the doctors, the orderlies while you convalesce in the infirmary. There are cigarettes outside behind the surgery, there is wine and beer on breaks, a cake to celebrate the next hundred batch, and sex in the janitor’s closet. And finally, families can bring their smiles to the common areas and feel relieved for they are not pretending.

We the spirits of this place, the spirits that gathered when the town said We will build buildings for a keeping of those not fit to live among us, we those spirits want you to know we have been watching you and know you, the real you and not your spirit of violence and destruction, of hate, but the one you can’t remember now, the one born of God, the one who must exist somewhere, the one you hope will be recaptured, the one who will get married again, the one who will help you regain the respect of your children and community, the one your your mother and father believe will break through the face you present, the blank mind, the addled tongue, the hand that drifts up uncontrollably to pat the space on your head where a drill bored through, the drill taking you though it didn’t care, not really, leaving you sensitive to light and noise, any loud noise, any disruption to a mellow day which nowadays means just about any sound.

And for those of you who became like power plants with nothing but current running through, for those whose bodies veins were flooded through with insulin over and over, you were just as fucked. We have your memories up here on a shelf. You may never get them back but we keep them and send them back in little batches like molded leaves rotting on trees, memories of leaves, veiny outlines, lace.

When you come back in your mind to us no matter where you are, the flophouse, the prison cell, the cardboard box, the bungalow with a picket fence, we know you want the whole thing back, what you were, or, more accurately could have been. You are with us in spirit and we meet you in the air while you drift in your dreams, we meet you to try to help you find what you are looking for.

In your mind you go back to the place where you lost yourself, you go back to your old bedlam, you come home to us, your home you never intended to feel as home and yet it was the site of this terrible new self you were born into, and there is no place like home my dear ones for here we keep who you were, you will find it here, we promise, if only you return, to make yourself whole among us again, to confront your executioners as they say.

It is not as haunted as tourists say, you know that, those foolish people who want to give themselves a shiver spending a night in restraints. Idiots. We have half a mind to show them real fear, but it would be a waste, alas.

You were the real beauty and the romance, my how we miss you, our beautiful, broken ones. Bring your old and weary bones to lie here again and let us give you back your old self. Your memories await. So too the tears you cannot cry being too feeble to feel. We will give you your self to you whole, along with your pleasures, as well as a deep and lasting sleep if you come to us and find your home once more in the bosom of health. It did not happen the first time, the wholeness, the health, but let us try again. Please.