And, sir, can you describe your ingenious machine?
A finely-wrought confection of filigree and tendon,
a four-chambered suction pump,
needles thin as vinegar,
a glass holding vial
for the sequestration of the extracted souls.
And by what means precisely do you extract the souls?
By attraction to what they yearn for, videlicet,
by the hummed tune snatched from the cradle,
by the torn photograph of the beloved,
of the gone, the grown, the flown away,
by the high notes of the liturgy
and the basso profundo of the departing train.
And can you reveal the appearance of the souls?
More feeling than vision,
the breath in the veil.
And to what use do you put your extracted souls?
They flutter brightly for only a few seconds.
They cannot fire a furnace nor light a bulb,
cannot survive transplantation to the criminal or madman
nor transfusion to the low of spirit.
They are an ornament to delight the connoisseur.
And your subjects – is there much suffering, sir?
They are like those who have put down their burdens
after a journey.
They move like cattle, placid and blessed.