“The Beach at Big Salt” by Jessica Goodfellow

Jessica Goodfellow


Tools of antiquity—the compass, the straight edge—
could not square the circle, couldn’t tame
its numberless sides. Arcs, curves, chords
of circles remain, tracing hollows of shells,
clawed waves, parabolas of sand. See
how matter curves around the emptiness,
how it cups and gently holds
the space where things are absent.
Matter buckles and spirals around it,
proving what is missing is more potent
than what isn’t.

Matter aches to escape the discipline of being.
Creation longs to possess the freedom
from being a thing begotten. Even babies
in their mothers’ wombs lie curled,
crouched around the swell of the primordial.
Straight or curved, tools cannot measure
what it means to be, after all this time,
still nascent, beholden to what
you can never know.
Armless, legless, a seahorse
unrolls his tail, reels it in endlessly
bobbing and straining in the tides.

from Rattle #23, Summer 2005


Jessica Goodfellow: “George Russell once told the young James Joyce, ‘You have not enough chaos in you to make a world.’ Russell was wrong of course. As for me, I have only enough chaos for the odd poem now and again, but it’s all the chaos I can handle, and the only way I know of handling it.” (web)

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