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By Richard Whitehurst

I felt frightened when the astronaut

Showed me the atmosphere sitting sheer and thin

Precariously clinging to the cool face of the world

Like an onion’s fragile skin

Later a meteorologist scared me as much

By descriptions of cyclones that swirled

And fed hungrily upon tropical seas…masses of cloud

That when seen from outer space, do in that airy film

Sit like fragile disks of rotating cotton.

And in my human scale

I have felt and faced those living winds

In wonderment, alone…forgotten

As they gushed across open waters, and I gripped…

Resistant and strained in their pressing blasts

Amazed and absorbed by powers and perspectives

That tore the ceilings of my flimsy conceptions.

Soon then I studied

The great black wall from the storm’s eye as I stood

Calm and centred in the eerie sunshine, in the silence

Where breathless pressures bent my eardrums,

and I was swallowed

By extended thoughts and feelings of Relationship

            Between myself and that silence

            And the granite wind and the tiny swirl of cotton

            And the speck of an eye and an onion’s skin

            And an entire planet and the on-going void…

These scales and diversities and narrow margins of life

Aligned before me in one measureless moment

That drew me inward to myself as I allowed

Connections to be noticed that had always existed

Elsewhere in the deeper mysteries of my humanity.

Gratefully…

As the other dark wall approached…descended

I felt my fearful fragile little-self begin to die.

I chose to slowly peal away my fingers

And gently slipped over into the nourishing chaos.                                                                                        

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