Two Visions

Gerard Beirne

Vision of a Foreign Land


The women of Smyrna swallowing drams of Mediterranean mercury
to plumpen up their charms/legendary beauties desired for Turkish

the flying carpet Oriental romance of Spice Island false pregnancies/
children made orphans by bloody massacre returning in vain to the fruits

and the flowers of the Sultan's invitation/their wounds still bleeding,
the wild beast's paw upon them/their own blood moistening the orchids

growing over their fathers' graves/the women outside the walls, shaded
by the groves of a funereal tree, arranging their shawls to hide their faces

beneath a mourning cypress/the perfumed East ingesting quicksilver
in pursuit of comeliness/a laxative trail of bejeweled globules scattered

on the ballroom floor gathered by black eunochs in the sweepings
of the withdrawing room/the orange trees in full and vivacious bloom/

A coffee house fronting the harbour where crosslegged dragomen sit
smoking the chibouk/military coats, cocked-hats and canes, doubloons

and Spanish dollars/an African marked with the smallpox, the sirocco
blowing in his teeth/tassels, festoons of artificial flowers, gold leaf/

vests of velvet bound around the waist, confined with clasps of silver,
embroidered zones/a lame footed social castrate, a literal basket case/

two pistols and a yataghan in his belt/transvestite boy dancers with rouged
complexions, pale dowagers roaring, "quarantino," simulating contractions/

sered toads in their armpits and groins drying out their sores/barbers
off their pilgrims' body-hair/bowdlerised into damsels, cross-dressing

traveling in arab caravans through dangerous desert dunes/women dressed
in sailor-suits kissing older married men/their lost and wandering wombs.

Red earth, burnished steel, white gold/antimonious cupellation tinged
into pure silver fermentation/the hidden city, the locus of desire, water

washing out the earth/the excess strained in a twisted buckskin bag/
the pan and cradle abandoned by the honest miners/ leaping barefoot

over heaps of brayed metal, beds of fire/ jumping their claims for cheap
labour and enterprise/a mild muriate, paydirt thrown in with worn shovels/

decrepit mules made frisky by gypsy horse-traders/rearing their heads
to shake the noise from their skulls/mirror-silverers with trembling limbs

stirring the depravity of their actions/amalgams prepared with silver
powder pressed into drilled decaying holes/the solid flight of liquid gravity/

incoherent, vaporous, evanescent/photographic plates rapturous with
an incandescent act of light reflecting back its own glaring absence/

Vision of a Visionary Apocryphal Codex

Quire foldings in its present formation carefully sewn into a binding
measuring twenty by fifteen centimetres. The text area remaining
within these features. The folios varying from gathering to gathering.

None having exactly the same proportions, comprised differently,
yet clear in their organisation in spite of the parchment's fragility,
the severe cutting down of the codex and the loss of leaves occasionally.

I. Fols 1-8. In fours (quaternion).
The three inner bifolia, not completely separated, but damaged.
The remaining half-leaves of the outer bifolium still being attached.

II. Fols 40-49. In fives (quinion).
The outer bifolium having come apart; the back awkwardly mended
and the leaves upended, straightened, strengthened and patched.

III. Fols 16-21. In threes (trine).
The three bifolia having fallen asunder. To maintain their position,
the half-leaves have been carefully pasted and stitched.

IV. Fols 59-64. In threes (trine).
Originally, undoubtedly, in fours (quaternion), the outer
bifolium lost as is clear by the state of this text.

V. Fols 9-15. In threes (trine).
with a half-sheet, fol. 9 attached to fol. 10,
the outer bifolium of the gathering.

VI. Fols 30-31. A bifolium.
The leaves of which have been parted,
with a thin strip of paper as fastening.

VII. Fols 80-86. Now in threes (trine).
The conjugate of fol. 81 having been lost evidently
from the text's, after fol. 85v., discontinuity.

VIII. Fols 136-139.
The innermost leaves of the original gathering presumably,
preceded by a fol.X and followed by a fol.Y, respectively.

IX. Fols 65-73. In fours (quaternion).
The second bifolium having been attached
to the third, fols 67 and 71, for support.

X. Fols 136-139.
The extant sheets fastened together
in pairs having previously fallen apart.

The vellum a soft, light gauge and generally
without flaws. Even though fol. 107 r had a tear,

it was mended within the script area carefully.
The folios usually arranged so the side with hair

faced out, but in quires composed irregularly,
although to this pattern it was not always adhered.

The manuscript's many lacerations, frequently
due to minor weaknesses, attentively repaired.

The various folio pages restored eventually
which previously had been dog-eared.