Methodologies of Grace by Carol Shillibeer

Methodologies of Grace

There is a window that cracked. In the blistering heat of language,
there hissed by cool and faint, mountain air, far,
over the ranging hills, the walking
earth (the Cool Mind) tireless the breeze seems,
sweet with the ghost of flowers blooming leagues,
far into the body’s stoney green,
loops and loops of infinite iteration.

There is a window cracked. The watch tower roasts
above its linguistic stilts.
Before, it was other than this. It was never other than this.
And yet, the desert heat of words breaks holes in their own floors,
(there is always a way out) recursive seed, bloom, bee and seed;

roots gleam at night, they, thorns, petals,
reflective morphemes of competence,
between house and earth
cognition bees hunt their aromatic signals,
bees in the skull, and hives,
through the glass pane of linguistic separation
from the thingness of the world,
hiding the thingness of the self. This is
not. This is only this. Flowers break open with the beauty of it.


Asked once, if “approaching seizure, then later” was based on a real event, I had to agree that it was. It was the least false thing I could say. This poem you are reading tumbles down the same rocky slope of facticity. I will say, for example, that the crack in the glass is my particular form of epilepsy.

It is true that I was diagnosed as a petite mal epileptic. Epilepsy does run in my family, but really I have no idea if the identities that erupt during “seizures” are erupting due to the particular neuronal organization we name petite mal, or if there is another odd cognitive process going on. I don’t even know if such fissures in cognitive constructed-reality are an oddity. Sometimes I think these alternate assessments of identity and reality are always there; but normally, they are unconscious thoughts―unconsciously active ones, ones that carry sharp objects, ones that have managed to poke a hole in the monolith of their absence from awareness.


I don’t resent language for the presence of such absence. I’ve come to realize, with repeated attention to the form these quiet breezes take, that they are always there. In fact in sleep, when the blaze of language is at its most dormant, that which we imagine as mountain air, takes on shape, colour, tactility―in dream, in sleeping  memory―and thus (escaped through the floor boards of the linguistic watchtower) parades itself, for itself. The body thinking.

It is the watchtower, a newcomer, useful for Neighbourhood Watch, but with some peculiar ideas. Reminds me strongly of the lantern fish, as if the symbiosis of luminescent bacteria and a pendant fishy corpuscle—(dangling with an evolutionary attitude from a modified dorsal spine) in which they house themselves—as if they were all that.

So it’s useful for hunting in the dark of the sea—the lantern is not the fish; language is not the human. Dude, I want to say. Dude. Get a grip.


The glass, with language, ceases upon sleep.
The poem, ceaseless in its breath,
with no known impediment
(except for death),
an elbow pressed
.         between feather and bone
.                                takes on stanzaic proportions.
The limit of the legs’ ability
to reach beyond the warm pocket,
a line
.          break.


Having realized the ubiquity of the Cool Mind, as a child I set about attending Her. As if she were my Queen, I carry Her prize possessions. By becoming the stone carrier, I have learnt to recognize the first curling strands of wordless thought, or at least, I have reached out toward the edges of my perceptual ability and am thus able to perceive the body thinking. In other words, I keep my person, as much as is possible, tactile and aware of the cool that sparks the blaze of language.

I am quite sure that much goes on in the world
.                                                             (beyond the watchtower)
goes on
.                             the inner stones and breezes
.                            which I cannot perceive,
.                                                           which we
.                             a                                cannot
but I remain vigilant, and hopeful
that I
.          that I will manage
.                          more violence              against absence.


These are the methodologies of grace.

About the Poet
Carol Shillibeer lives on the west coast of Canada. Her publication list and contact information is at