Naomi Ward Transcriptorium Then Sky alone is left, a hundred blue Fragments in revolution, with no clue To where a Niche will open. Quite a task, Putting together Heaven, yet we do. A crumbled town, layers of dust and bone. Streets spoked to a monastery down through soil horizons, but vellum bears traces of a difference. Deep layers yield transcripts and translations in the same hand, with the same blues and greens, deep and cold. Shallower: two different pens, two pressures. Two blues almost like, but tilt the page and they flash different, one pale, one bold, conjugated to a smaller gold. The older strata describe a lone scribe, with few brothers. All pray and chant and walk through moss-cool cloisters, but only from his pen do the books replicate and transmute to the common tongue. Rock yields pigment offspring: goethite yellow extracted, clinker-welded hematite, cinnabar’s vermilion. Miniature echoes of the icons, domes, spires, through his hand perfected. The volumes are all interconnected. Darkened lecture hall, the professor speaks of a later, larger town; trade brought wealth, masters and apprentices from different lands. Many crafts, named in many different ways. Each sought their own words too, for God and fear, for all the rules, and their encapsulating. The scribes adapted, one wholly occupied with transcripts, five more outside the walls, a new colony, an illuminating location of actively translating. New ways, new rules: the extramural five were Sisters, sequestered beyond simple diffusion of the texts by lay brothers, in their errands about the town. Next were urchins, scampering chaperones, who shed the metallurged fragments as they scattered dendroid, street-distracted. Which is why from later digs emerged a trafficking device. From hillside abbot’s perch to abbess, the books convoyed. A hollow rod, or so-called solenoid. H. L. Hix “We thus report the first evidence for spatially segregated transcription and translation in a bacterial cell…” (E.Y. Gottshall, C. Seebart, J.C. Gatlin, and N.L. Ward. 2014. Spatially segregated transcription and translation in cells of the endomembrane-containing bacterium Gemmata obscuriglobus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 111(30):11067-72.) The experience escaped me, but I have this report. The truth escaped, but left a trail of evidence. As did those skittish deer, their white tails a transcription of those white fencepost tips serried in translation of boundaries. I watched them through the window of my cell. Watched them, or watched their heads float through head-high reeds, an as-if-swimming that animated the marsh meadow and marked its topography. Scored that place, scarred it. For those few moments, I was of what I was among. The experience escaped me, but I have this report: landscape arrays mechanisms of wariness, propagates populations skewed toward scurry and chirr, disguises callings to—turkey coaxing turkey, all those echolocating sheep—as callings across. The truth escaped, but left a trail of evidence for me to sort through. Is it leaves I hear, or the tree? Prairie wind (the swishing by) or range grass (the swishing of)? Are all these evidences evidence of life, or of mortality? I watched, listened, sniffed the air, as did those skittish deer, their white tails a transcription— a tally—of my dilemma: that what I cannot identifies and constitutes me, more than what I can; that my come what will is inaudible against the choral come what may; their irrefutability, all those white fencepost tips serried in translation of the distance to you into the distance from, of my isolated into lost, of this landscape into my spiritual condition. Like those ears-raised deer, I listen for signal overlap. As they retrace their boundaries, I watch them through mine, this window, this cell. Gemmata Poems