Nine Ways of Looking at Nothing

All things have a hollow center
so secret and sacred it can’t be entered—
the heart of a blooming rose,
air caught inside a floating soap bubble,
a hunch-backed ring of smoke.  

The human body is composed in the airy balance
of cobweb, cake batter, universe—
ten percent matter and ninety vacuous space.
Flesh is a flimsy nylon stocking covering the soul.

The firmament stretches like a circus tent—
as if anyone could pull sunlight tassels
and push aside the curtain.

Is the cosmos God’s skin draped
across God’s bones, skeleton
of fundamental geometry?

Does math restrict matter
like a corset flesh, or do the two untie
like hook from eye?

How can the present be unwrapped?
That would be like trying to undress the sea—
her gray silk skirts, the surf’s endless frills
of lace-trimmed crinoline.

Imagine seeing far into the bones of swans,
tracing the double helix of DNA corkscrewed
inside the curvature of delicate neck—
a bird’s maze-like, dizzying architectures—
pockets of nothingness waiting within
the cathedral arches of folded wings
where see-through rachis balance breath
between barbules and barbicels
of snow-white feathers.

One twig’s tap on a pond’s surface
spreads into concentric rings,
each ripple widening until it reaches
shore and moves no more—
while the center is still
beyond end or beginning.  

All things draw toward a common core
the way a wild goose soars
below the cloud deck in a gray sky,
wing beats like metronome clicks
measuring time’s longing
inside the chest of space.

All things pledge themselves to the secret
of origin—the way a swan mates
for life, taking a pristinely white vow
with only an inkling, without
thinking, without rings.

—Published as part of artist Ken Dubin’s Poetry Project, “Field of All Possibilities, 2014

Painting: Ken Dubin, “Field of All Possibilities”

Painting: Ken Dubin, “Field of All Possibilities”