Journey to the Centre of the Mind

Journey to the Centre of the Mind full


“I know thee, thou clear spirit and I now know that thy right worship is defiance.”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The scientists have a hellfire dream of the centre of the world
The earth looks to them like a clear glass eye
And they say its heart is crushed fire
Weighted with itself
For nature’s blood is fire, they say,
And its unstable veins and fluttering pulse
All those lakes of lava, those Gomorrah cities shaken like child’s blocks

And yet for all these imaginings of the veiled core
We have not yet journeyed to the centre of the mind
To see if there lie lakes of pitch or towers of sulphurous flame
To see if a burner is there where bone and nerve are burnt to aetherial steam

There is no underworld to lose oneself in like the dendritic electronics that rest
in the bowl of bone
It is behind the eyes that we might see the glorious prospect as of hell—the sight
that Milton’s angels saw was sculpted by his own blind brain

But oh! For the citadel of smoke where Plato’s reason rules
And the dread lords of our upper souls
Look down upon the blasted plain
And Vulcan sits, enthroned and lame, inside their orbed eyes


“an extremely gentlemanlike sort of business thou are in here, carpenter;—or would’st thou rather work in clay?”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The cosmos is clayey
Plastic in the manipulating hand of God, we are told,
And just as the clay on the riverbed is shaped by the waters
So we are shaped by the world
And just as that earthy thing when bathed in flame
Becomes the immortal aetherial breakable bisque
So indeed can we be cleansed into affrighting white

And yet, Prometheus made the body of clay
He made the effigy whose cup never fills and whose sword never falls,
Of what he made the mind…
He made the mind from suspirating breath
He made the mind from between his teeth
In short, he made the mind from the Word

So that one may search all the dusty deserts of the Earth
And find indeed not one discarded soul
For all the winds sigh out songs


“Ha! A coward wind that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow.”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

As lunged trees grow from the earth
So the breath unfurls its fronds from the toothed and predatory mouth
Spreading upward, alive as steam,
Like the pleasing smoke of the sacrifice
A life sighed out toward the gods
Like the halo accorded tempering steel
A herald of the rainbow covenant between Man and Death

There is a message in the coded rhythm of the breath
But we are not its authors

The air is not empty
It sings and thrills across the metal insect hulls
Of our probing vessels
It strikes indifferently
It repays

And thus life is meted out in long unappealable sentences
And still, we feel the breath upon our fingers,
But we cannot hold our life in our hands


“where far beneath the fantastic towers of man’s upper earth, his root of grandeur, his whole awful essence sits in bearded state; an antique buried beneath antiquities, and throned on torsos!”
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The world is mostly water, as are we,
And it was from the waters that the heavens came
But you cannot drink the water
It will make you mad

For the mind is a sort of Atlantis
All its best things are lost things
And you shall not drag that Continent to the light
For as a convulsion in the ocean
Thrashes live sea upon the naked coast
So we should all be lost by our own strength

There is a river in the underworld that makes the dead forget
And there is a river in the underworld that drives off death
And by this the gods swear
For serpent-like it coils through the deep places
It encircles us all
And in it is the threat that—
Reflected in the water, as at a rising or setting—
We might someday see the doubled sun

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©