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’s newest books are The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots (New Criterion Poetry Prize) and 3 Nights of the Perseids (Richard Wilbur Award), both published in 2019. His previous books are Upcycling Paumanok , Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Prize), Galileo’s Banquet (Towson University Prize), and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize). Balbo is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship. He taught most recently in Iowa State’s MFA program in creative writing and environment and at the West Chester University Poetry Conference. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, poet-essayist Jane Satterfield. (More at https://nedbalbo.com.)
Ned Balbo

Author: Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo’s newest books are The Cylburn Touch-Me-Nots (New Criterion Poetry Prize) and 3 Nights of the Perseids (Richard Wilbur Award), both published in 2019. His previous books are Upcycling Paumanok , Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Prize), Galileo’s Banquet (Towson University Prize), and The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize). Balbo is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts translation fellowship. He taught most recently in Iowa State’s MFA program in creative writing and environment and at the West Chester University Poetry Conference. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, poet-essayist Jane Satterfield. (More at https://nedbalbo.com.)