A visit to the shores of lullabies, So far from here, so very far away, A floor of sand, it doesn't matter where, And overhead a water-ceiling sways; A shell is summoned to materialize— The holy life, a spiral, hushed and pure, Complete unto itself—a spiral shell Is summoned from a substratum of wonder: And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes, Around a primal, ragged nucleus Accumulated layers crystallize: An embryonic seashell pulls itself Through being-portals intricately placed In seas of non-existence; caught; self-caught In nets of pasts-and-futures synchronized In present-nows: the Many and the One— It doesn't matter, really, how it's done, The how of it; the why; it doesn't know How atoms in the ancient paradox Can pass from unseen particles to seen Or why a chain of atoms interlocks And manifests in blurry pink and green; It doesn't matter really, where it's from— Descended from an ancient nacre-dream, Self-fabricating through genetic codes Without an archetype to utilize, As if the wondrous deed it's summoned to Were all that ever mattered, seam by seam Volutions from a nacre-nucleus Of violet iridescence: being-whorl With everything in play, and all in play, And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes— A shell appears—Fusiturricula— And uses its inherited clairvoyance To plot a logarithmic spiral round An axis of rotation evermore And evermore-forevermore unseen, Through pre-existing numbers, one-two-three, And shyly browsing algae as it ponders Angular momentum; symmetry; Successively self-generating curves Projecting helixes, the axis fixed; Then tilting on its axis; torsion-tilt; Compulsion and desire mixed with toil; An overhanging cusp becomes a spire By pushing up and forward on the coil: Irregularly oscillating whorls Are flaring out in ruffled calcium; Pure rhythmia; Slow motion suturings, With no one there to sew them, perforate The apex, boring through: a water-vent, Inhalant and exhalant; knotted threads Are pulled to fasten equidistant nodes Along a helix-rim; a clockwise twist And twirling stripes through interrupted bands Are darkly lit, through brilliant whites and creams, Like lightning bolts in violet-tinted brown That zigzag in slow motion, down and down From node to node to node; a lightning dream Descending ridge by ridge: Sensation: Fizz— Salt water circulating past and through The ruffled aperture—existence is A taste of ocean water on a tongue— And then Fusiturricula, intent On browsing, sets in motion moving veils Of sands that long ago and far away Were magma rocks with twisted veins of ore From which the sand was ground and empty shells Like lightning-stricken spires, surface-fused With used-up bolts of lightning, lie around— Nacreous, in almost-silence, hushed Among the lulling engines of the sea— But hush now, close your eyes now, all is well: Underwater ink enlarges, blurs, In violet-brown across a spiral shell: A record of volutions fills a scroll With wondrous deeds and great accomplishings, A record of a summons not refused: Of logarithms visible and fused With thoughts in rows of spiral beaded cords As X goes to infinity; impearled; Violet; and inviolate; self-endowed; Itself the writing, and itself the scroll The writing's written on; and self-aware With never-ever-to-be-verbalized Awareness of awareness of awareness, Instantiation; all in play; a sole Immaculate example of itself; And in the aperture, the remnants of A Heavenly Question, lightly brushed across With opalescent ore of consciousness: The universe is where? Is hanging where? And overhead a water-ceiling sways, And all is done in play; in heaven above The ceiling of the sea is drawing streams Of shining answers through its question-sieves: Is matter the enchanted lathe? Or mind? But which one spirals from the other's blade? And all the waves at the beginning-end Of all that comes and goes and takes and gives And all in play and all that dies and lives Materializes; dematerializes; Five, and four, and three, and two, and one— And all is brought to being; all effaced; And all that could be done has now been done; And all is well and hush now, never mind; Fusiturricula slowly withdraws Its being; self-enfolding; self-enclosed; And all it toiled for turns out to be No matter—nothing much—nothing at all— Merely the realm where "being" was confined And what was evanescent evanesced; And then a spiral shell washed by a wave Is carried forward in a foaming crest; But that was long ago and far away, It doesn't matter, really, when it was, And close your eyes now, hush now, all is well, And far from here, so very far away, A wave sets down an empty spiral shell And draws away, it doesn't matter where, Among the other waves that come and go, And other waves appear and disappear And hush now, all is well, and far from here All heaven and earth appear; and evanesce; A self-engulfing spiral, ridge by ridge, That disappears in waves that come and go And all that could be done is done; and seven; And six; and five; and four; and three; and two; And one...and disappearing...far away... Enraptured to the end, and all in play, A spiral slowly turns itself in heaven.
Excerpted from Heavenly Questions by Gjertrud Schnackenberg. Published in October 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Gjertrud Schnackenberg. All rights reserved.