Encase by Karla Kelsey


A pregnant capuchin monkey struck with a blow dart faints, is lifted by two primatologists into a wire cage and shipped to the other side of the globe where lavender mood lighting frames someone’s son on the subway platform spinning-spinning. His mother used to say he was practicing to become a Sufi until her friend, arched eyebrow, said next we’ll expect him in a weighted skirt and tall hat. Earth now circumferenced by a thin layer of radioactive material. Therefore, mid-sternum, the sensation of Pompeii erupts in the chest.

Lavender meant to cleanse and focus the body as one tilts closer to the rushing train. Lavender meant to soothe thought scoured out by snow but hot: an anomaly crouching in the corner a Bengal tiger, saber in its mouth. At home the geranium watches while undoing a shift in weather, someone’s son saying the shin guards will protect him from live shooters, but the terry cloth mother never responds. The wire mother, on the other hand, at least had milk. There’s a phrase etched into the gorilla baby’s ribs naming the satellite that crosses the red sea at dawn.

In pink sequence flowers secrete themselves and a meadow scalds with rose, with all the boys, the men, so much better at drones. In empathy with somebody’s son spinningspinning these black turning slippers, ankle high, won’t come off. The first and last instruction remains: check the balsa wood box to see if the animal still breathes. Then, a bit of grape, some water, clucking over the animal as if it were a baby chick. The word freedom triggers the fantasy of submerging in a lagoon, amber beads floating. No room for anterior voices to infiltrate the experiment. Practicing to be a Sufi a woman with a Big Brown Bag says, gazing upon him with fond eyes.

Somebody’s son: hunks of glass travelling through the universe deposited him, already lurching into his teen years, in a neighbor’s backyard. In the first narrative two capuchin monkeys are rewarded with a piece of cucumber when they present their minder with a rock. And then the reward-system shifts, and the minder-mother gives the monkey on the right a grape. The monkey on the left presents again his rock, is given again a piece of cucumber. Heat triggers memories of mother hoisting flower baskets from the railings of a communistera cantilevered balcony. An expression of disbelief then hitting the next rock against the wall to make sure it is a rock.

On the news: only a thin metal partition between the tourist hotel and the refugee camp. Children from the camp as young as nine, the spokeswoman says, have begun to suicide. Did you ever, continues the stranger with the Big Brown Bag, consider the motivation behind mood lighting? This, at the beginning of a season that would render the domestic entirely opaque. Some species of mother spiders allow their children to devour them. On a Chinese bile farm a mother bear, after her cub is fitted with an abdominal catheter, kills her cub and then kills herself. An ease of inner seas comes only at the cost of assuming the truth of inviolable love generated by an unearthly algorithm.



Karla Kelsey is author of four books, most recently Of Sphere, selected by Carla Harryman and published by Essay Press. Blood Feather, a book of poetry, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press.