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  • Prologue, Epilogue, and: Beyond the Horizon, and: The Evaporating Braid
  • Steve Gehrke (bio)

[End Page 98]

  • Prologue, Epilogue
  • Steve Gehrke

for my daughter

When you were vaulted, embargoed, tapping out messages on the walls, when you were translucent, opalescent, a hieroglyph coming to life in its cave, when your body was a glowing aquarium of cells, when you were reptilian, mammalian, quick-changing behind the curtain’s folds, when you were a kite unfolding the wind, an expanding mesh, an origamist of the flesh, when you were a repetition, an exhalation, a star’s migration, when you hopscotched the chalked side- walks of our chromosomes, when you were docked and moored, when you were the building storm, a collection of notes being scored, the sampler, the copyist, the knot of streams, the welcome plagiarist of genes, when you were something written a thousand times, a thousand times erased, when you were a text slowly being traced, when the eternal grammars sifted into you like the sediment of stars, when you were a syntax, a structure, the perfect rhyme, the one that worked, the eureka in our laboratory of sighs, when you were unjointed, unmade, unbecome, bodiless, vagabond, a clapper in need of a bell, when you were a fixation, a flirtation, our compendium, our chapter and verse, when we groped for you like a light switch, when you were a target, a zeroing- in, the one lucky toss in our carnival games, a glint, a guess, the alchemist’s dream, when you were whistling on the stoop of our thoughts, the ventriloquist, the eavesdropper, the message in the ear, the sky- written note the wind had just erased, when you were a divided city, axed but magnetized, you longing for you, the pheromones in the air, when we carried you like synchronized keys, our balkanized deity, when you were anybody’s guess, the card dealt from the middle of the deck, the fortune-teller’s lies, when you were fractured, rationed, metabolized backward [End Page 99] through the generations, when you were a splinter in a million different boards, a single grain in a silo of cells, when you were the whole flock, the herd, the fire- flies rising in the fields, when you were the fields themselves, when you spread out across the plains, a hundred thousand streams with the currents reversed, when you were a universe of bees promised to a hive, when an entire civilization began its pilgrimage to you, when you were atoms, electrons, the ancient seeds, morphic, mineral, cascading down evolution’s alleyways, embroidered in the mysteries, weren’t we already just out ahead of you, two ghosts being erased by the fog, weren’t we already being burned away, weren’t we a contraction, a resolving contradiction, the final stops on your migration, weren’t we already knotted in a braid, isn’t this a back- ward elegy, my forward etymology, isn’t it the billions of years before your birth that we should mourn, aren’t you the root, the source, the pyramid’s tip, won’t you be our mother when the causal chain flips? [End Page 100]

  • Beyond the Horizon
  • Steve Gehrke

“Only through contact with suffering . . .will you—awaken . . . .”“I was thinking about you . . . about what a hard time you’ve had of it these last years.”

—“Robert,” Beyond the Horizon

I imagined them laid outside your door, like something thrown at a stage, an ovation to our love or our divorce, that shock of orange flowers, tiny arsonists, so bright that you might think

that what was ashed in us could be reflamed, might think that the world was new again, each bud opening along your skin like a swan’s beak. That plan came back to me today, encoded in the words

flame, spell, mystery—as Robert, long trapped, tries again to drag the horizon to his door, the ruined garden of the play blooming from those seeds. But don’t you love, just a little, the trick candle of desire,

the way the least glint or particle of speech draws a match across the noir-dark past, the...


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