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Based on the James Turrell artwork at The National Gallery

of Australia in Canberra…



Within Without


We have chanced to wonder at the Skyspace

and find ourselves drawn down the sloping path

to the Victorian basalt stupa.

We enter through a portal, so smoothly,

as if flies had followed the labyrinth

of a cochlea, or had gained entrance

to the gentle spiral of a snail shell,

only to hear a quiet ululation.

The universe is made immanent and

we sit on a concrete bench, out of time,

searching for a cloud like a camel, or

a shape like a whale, but all is cloudless.

We are alone and yet we are connected,

within; without – experience distilled –

interior and exterior are

like the two vessels of an alembic.

Are we in a maharajah’s tomb, or

Pharoanic chamber? We are infused

by a laser beam of cosmic insight.

The world tilts on its axis and we see

segments of reality as they change,

until the sun adjusts its slanting beams,

casting a gnomic shadow on us,

branding us with a present awareness.

No clutter of materiality:

there’s only an uncanny sense of peace.

At some point the operculum descends.

Either our eyes, or the oculus blinked.