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(‘All the world's a stage, & all the men & women…’)

In Bits

Evidently this is a mad house SHE CAME CONFIDENTLY
IN (I’ll swear) COMPLETE IN ALL HER PARTS.
I watched the trolley pushed up the passage,
dumped into the lift, disappear into the bowels
- to be fussily greeted by an aide in a mask –
of the theatre.

& 8 FUTILE HOURS LATER
[I was sipping my 3rd gift of tea] this selfsame
chipped-green vehicle hurriedly passed down
the tunnel, vanished backwards into the lift
... there was a whirr - it was gone!

***

I've searched in the past 36 hours each public
ward & private cell in the entire building. . .
surely they couldn’t ( without informing me)
have already buried the infant?

I asked at the office:
the superintendent himself pleaded TOTAL
ignorance of any such op.

***

I think possibly this was a major experiment
backfired!.. It may be that when one part
was removed there was trouble in some other
(which was instantly sliced extracted replaced)
... & so on ... & so on.

I’m frightened honestly now
of meeting the child: had she been my wife
I might have enjoyed the change if they’d given her
gratis a new top middle or bottom
but this infant originally
was my own kid exactly. . . I cannot conceive myself
shaking hands politely with an unknown counterfeit
creature they’ve botched up (& for whose benefit?)
in their bloody theatre - good God! - AS IF dear child
SHE WERE A ‘BIT-PART’ PLAYACTRESS!

Note

Here is a person who imagines that his daughter's identity has been changed by means of an operation in a very large hospital, & he is unable to trace where she now is or what has occurred.

His thoughts induce a kind of hysteria in which he assumes that changes might have been made in his child which are unacceptable & futile.