Convection

anvil-cloud-600x400

/kənˈvekSH(ə)n/ noun: the movement caused within a fluid by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in transfer of heat.”           Google 

“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ (…)”       Genesis 1:1-3

If     before the beginning     something
had not yet appeared from nothing     how did
nothing manage to imbibe the god’s breath
that marked the beginning of creation
(particularly since before there was something
there surely wouldn’t have been things
such as gods or breaths)? 

For that matter     out of what non-thing
was said sudden cloud burped
into the slate gray chaos that hung
in a sky that couldn’t have been there     but was
ostensibly sandwiched tidily between
the turbulent     blue water (we’ll address that later)
& the gauzier ‘ether’ that was not yet the air
for the deities who were not yet themselves?

& if     in the beginning (as the story goes)
those twin neonates     formlessness & desolation
comprised everything
that was    at the time     nothing
from where     for the love of sanity
did that ‘raging ocean’ arise? 

I mean     of the untold passions we might’ve presumed
preceded all extant matter & manner of cognizance
why did we dream up an ocean     & infuse it
with fulmination     only then to have it (not) be
‘engulfed in total darkness’     as if to deflect
attention from how much we were trying to make
out of a whole bunch of nothing?

Aside from being a bit fishy
the story does lend itself rather poorly
to proper revelation     no doubt
amounting to the non-existent body of water in question
being (or    more precisely   not-being) rightfully fraught
that antiquity could do no better than to liken it—
in its purported (not to mention impossible)
shared subsistence with nothing—
to Phorkys     the weedy-bearded progenitor of the gorgons…

Is it any wonder
the artists should depict
so much transference of hot air
as the white wisp of a ship
vanishing in the distant mist?

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Stormy Sea

This thought experiment was inspired by the (impressively copious) weather satellite video loops of convection clouds popping into existence, which my son has been tracking down online and sharing with me… just another example of the uncountable, humbling insights into the natural world that I’m sure would have failed to blip on my radar, if not for his beautiful influence.

An earlier version of “Convection” appeared on this blog in Summer 2016.

Everest

Everest

“…since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity (…)

overtakes you like a storm…”             Proverbs 1:25-27

Icefalls—
freezing streams of tears
formed in the weather of her own invention—

rip a hidden dominion
of chasms
beneath

this Mecca we faithfully revisit
upon surviving each prior pilgrimage
& restless penance at base camp.

No snow-blind bid for ascension
will leave its trace upon this cruel, white slate,
as cold-pierced flesh, violated senseless, chases

the gossamer promise of substantiation
in the biting night silence,
scaling massive vertical icy rises that crest

on the barren horizon, as intimate as distant;
in this alien nest we recognize
lies the black womb’s waif—

the silky red dawn
drawing its first cerulean-cradled breath—
heralding the bloody miracle of life & death.

So tiny are these pitons & ropes
we follow toward willful, brutal injury—
they mark the fabled way through

this bone-strewn wilderness
to the sun-frozen summit,
her brimming lids blinking in feigned oblivion,

now hiding her sinister eyes,
now revealing
contrived glimpses of rapture.

STEPHANIE L. HARPER