In the Book of All That's Befallen

There were one hundred eighteen miniatures,
index and prologue, blue and vermillion,
all bound arabesque. A single edition, with a map

at the back: a mapamundi del Milenio
with five fish in a fountain a forest
of fern taking root and cherries galore.

The text? Pure art,
part drawn with water, part taut repetition
with a twist of sediment, particles floating

on the surface like ice floes facing extinction
in the matte shadow of a hot four o’clock.
(Tom, it means twin don’t you know?).

What train ride, she asked, can escape
what’s befallen? What lark in a riverside park
can sing us up out of this pit?

Knowledge was knowing
what would behappen. The fire was a case of negligence
unleashing the literal

edge of a glacier, and ergo—the flood.
The air was thick with switches. She said, said she.
All had befallen, and someone was sobbing.

– Mary Jo Bang


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