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The Menger Sponge

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God made everything out of nothing; but the nothing shows through —Paul Valéry

Lost from all angles but the sun’s,
This woken morning,
It clicks its brilliance into place at once,
If you follow the fall of light—
A spider web, head-high, adorning
The woodshed’s entrance like a sheet
Of gold-shot fabric, metal-tight,
That, even so, one handswipe could delete,
Collapsing all
That spacious architecture to a tacky ball.
It brings to mind the mathematician’s
Monstrous idea,
The Menger sponge, where infinite excisions
Out of a solid cube delete
Its substance while its form stays clear:
The central ninth is cut from a square;
Eight smaller squares remain; repeat
For each; and so on with this lattice of air:
A formula
For zero volume, infinite surface area.
Enough. The estuary’s slung
Like gold-shot cloth
Over a gulf of shifting airs. Among
Cloud-drifts of beaten eggwhite floats,
As though confected of such froth,
The mountain. Like a Chinese screen,
The fabric of the view devotes
Almost all blankness to this hanging scene,
This one handsweep
Of water, creased like the cheek of someone roused from sleep.

Stephen Edgar, "The Menger Sponge" text from Where the Trees Were, Indigo,1999; audio from Photography for Beginners, Audio CD, River Road Press, 2007: by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 1999, 2007 by Stephen Edgar.
Source: Photography for Beginners (River Road Press, 2007)
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The Menger Sponge

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