Miraculous Spirals

Spira Mirabilis, the logarithmic or “miraculous” spiral that widens
with every curve yet maintains its shape, is observed in astronomy,
biology, meteorology, coastal erosion, etc.

Upon a beach & under galaxies
…………….revolving, filled with stars,
……..coiled on itself, a nautilus
……..whose spiral is “miraculous”
lies tiger-striped, sea-scoured, its sacristies

more proof of nature’s winding symmetries.
…………….A wave confronts the shore’s
……..unraveling resolve, the loss
……..of coastal sand disastrous,
the crescent of its carving, by degrees,

a slow retreat…Unleashed, a storm gives rise
…………….to more than just brute force
……..shaped like a wheel, calamitous:

……..its track is heading straight for us,
winds gaining speed… Far off, a raptor’s eyes
catch sight of prey, pursuit we recognize
…………….by how it dives, its course

……..a gyre determined, dangerous
……..(& logarithmic, more or less)
till—sated, safe—it shelters in the trees,
beneath the limbs a hurricane will seize.

An insect whirls, dizzy as it flies
…………….in search of any source
……..that shines, however hazardous.
……..Translucent wings, diaphanous,
dry up in heat: stuck to the lamp, it dies,

fooled by synthetic sun. More mysteries:
……………..the eye’s corneal layers
……..(a shield for its glassy surface,
……..tender, tear-fed, aqueous)
resolve into a helix, vortices

of bundled nerves…What joins us all to these?
…………….Time’s pulse; the spirals’ course
……..or hidden presence, marvelous

……..& all-pervasive, measureless.
The nautilus, left on the sand to freeze,
holds thirty chambers, small eternities
…………….that no one occupies,

……..yet time & space are limitless
……..& time itself may have to pass
before we learn the same geometries
reside in our unfolding destinies.

Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo is the author of Upcycling Paumanok and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems, awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize. His fifth book, 3 Nights of the Perseids (forthcoming), was selected by Erica Dawson for the Richard Wilbur Award. A co-winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship. Balbo was recently a visiting faculty member in Iowa State University’s MFA program in creative writing and environment. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, poet-essayist Jane Satterfield. (More at https://nedbalbo.com.)
Ned Balbo

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Author: Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo is the author of Upcycling Paumanok and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems, awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize. His fifth book, 3 Nights of the Perseids (forthcoming), was selected by Erica Dawson for the Richard Wilbur Award. A co-winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, he is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship. Balbo was recently a visiting faculty member in Iowa State University’s MFA program in creative writing and environment. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, poet-essayist Jane Satterfield. (More at https://nedbalbo.com.)