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Mark Sullivan

08-28-09

Snail
There's a luminous space 
There's a luminous space
in the world, a threshold
where light from the next room
There's a luminous space 
falls into this dark one,
and we feel it when the mind
settles on anything
There's a luminous space 
for any length: the bare
trees gusting with ghost leaves
in this violent wind,
There's a luminous space 
the staircases zigzagging
up building faces
like afterthoughts
There's a luminous space 
of a careless architect.
Now consider this snail
you found escaping from
There's a luminous space 
its uprooted universe
when you rinsed the spinach
from the organic store:
There's a luminous space 
doesn't it seem to be
a literal emblem
of concentration, deep
There's a luminous space 
tarnish of its shell
spiraling into some
wordless realm?
There's a luminous space 
Amazing how it stays
in the exact same spot
for days, an inhuman
There's a luminous space 
patience, glued to the underside
of a leaf in its
containerized California
There's a luminous space 
you've improvised on the shelf.
We debate about this:
laziness, inertia,
There's a luminous space 
jet lag from its journey?
What could be its thoughts
or its dreams of a world
There's a luminous space 
gathered in inches
through its bleary antennae,
its body of petroleum gel?
There's a luminous space 
I tend to think it's all
a matter of survival--
why move, after all, when
There's a luminous space 
the safest route is stillness,
to become the leaf's whorled
shadow, hard camouflage
There's a luminous space 
swallowing the soft core?
But you're not sure.
You keep wondering about
There's a luminous space 
the life inside that spiral,
that point-- by definition without
dimension, so doesn't that mean
There's a luminous space 
it is spirit?-- from which
the volume descends.
In the book you're reading
There's a luminous space 
on Jewish mysticism,
God is said to have become
nothing in order to create
There's a luminous space 
everything.  Which is all
beyond us, in our all-too-human
apprehensions.  Still, you
There's a luminous space 
stare, drawn continually
into this tiny vortex,
matching its patience with
There's a luminous space 
your own-- that quality
whose root and sound are so close
to passion, and which Balzac
There's a luminous space 
said, beautifully,
comes closest in us
to the process that makes the world.
There's a luminous space 
                            -from Slag