Thomas Feng, studio recording
(forthcoming on New World Records)

Flash-forward: April 1st in Purgatory,
Oklahoma. Young Temerlin takes me calling
On his chimpanzees. Raw earth reds and sky blues.
Yet where we’ve paused to catch our breath, the lake
Small and unrippling bleaches to opaque
Café-au-lait daguerrotype the world
It doubles. Stump and grassy hummock, hut,
Ramshackle dock – poor furniture
Of Miranda’s island. She is sitting huddled,
Back to us, in the one tall, dead tree.
Only when Bruno gibbering thumps the dirt
Does she turn round, and see us, and descend
To dance along the hateful water’s edge,
Making the “happy” sign. Behavior which
Allows for her no less inspiredly sudden
Spells of pure unheeding, like a Haydn
Finale marked giocoso but shot through
With silences – regret? foreknowledge? Who
can doubt she’s one of us? She has been raised
From birth in that assumption. It appears
The plan’s to wed her – like as not, to Bruno
When both reach puberty – and determine what
Traces, if any, she will then transmit
To her own offspring, of our mother wit.
Now she’s being road across to us,
Making the “hurry” sign. Now, heartbeat visible
Through plum-dark breast, child-face alight
Within its skeptic, brooding mask,
Has landed. Up the low red clay brow scrambles
Flinging her whole weight – as Temerlin’s
Features disappear into one great
Openjawed kiss that threatens to go on
And on – “I’ll watch a film of when they mate,
If I can stand it,” he will say at lunch –
But for her manners. Here I stand,
Friend of her friend, who she must either love
Or overlook or maul. Here is her hand
Reaching out for me, its charcoal glove
Scuffed and wrinkled; myself taken in
Before I know it, by uncritical eyes
–Unlike the moment–as we solemnize
Our new (our old) relation: kissing kin.

Moment that in me made the “happy” sign
Like nothing I – like nothing but that whole
Fantastic monkey business of the soul
Between lives, gathered to its patron’s breast.

***

Between one floating realm unseen powers rule
(Rod upon mild silver rod, like meter
Broken in fleet cahoots with subject matter)
And one we feel is ours, and call the real,

The flat distinction of Miranda's kiss
Floods both. No longer, as in bad old pre-
Ephraim days, do I naively pray
For the remission of their synthesis.

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