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I come from a people to whom the invisible world is everyday present. A people for whom there is no death though death has followed them across history and over continents. I come from a people who hope against hope, whose melancholy is the outer garment of their mirth. In their celebrations and in their mournings, the spirit is the same. I used to speak Yiddish and Hebrew fluently but I have not spoken either language for thirty years. What else have I lost?

The moment of death, the moment of reckoning, whatever it was, the image that stopped you, at that moment the protective accumulations of life prove useless. The inner life, the other language is what I need and the room is empty and silent.

I can't go back into the past and change it, but I have noticed that the future changes the past. What I call the past is my memory of it and my memory is conditioned by who I am now. Who I will be. The only way for me to handle what is happening is to move myself forward into someone who has handled it. As yet that person does not exist. She has not those resources. I will have to make her as Jewish legend tells how G-d made the first man: by moulding a piece of dirt and breathing life into it.

The dirt I have in plenty. The life I will have to draw out of lungs unaccustomed to deep breathing.

There is a girl whose face collides with mine in the mirror. I know she wants to speak with me but when she bends forward to whisper, she has no mouth.

Another woman, short and strong, dark skin and thick hands. When she comes close she tries to clutch me but as her hands shut around my body there is no body. I see her bent over the terrified air.

When I told my lover about all this, he served up Freud with my pasta and told me it was my inadequacy anxiety.

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from :Jeanette Winterson, "Gut Symmetries" (c) 1997

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