In a city of South China
I’m waiting to be executed
for the crime of “Lao Bi”.

I have no idea what “Lao Bi”
is or what I may have done
but I know that I will die

It is morning and my mother
is brought back from the dead
to say “Goodbye” to me

She is led down the corridor
to my cell looking puzzled
and awkward, as she did in life

She reaches out and touches
my forearm, lightly, and then
pulls away as if that’s enough

I say that we’re only allowed
one touch – she shakes her head
and mumbles, “Couldn’t be.”

“It is,” I say, sadly, as one
of the jailors nods his head,
and then she is gone again

And it is time and I stand up
in my cell and then, quite without
any warning or even intention,

I turn into a yellow butterfly
and feel my wings and fly out
through the bars and then wake

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