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Fusiturricula Lullaby

Gjertrud Schnackenberg
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.

Gjertrud Schnackenberg