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Particles create and recreate

a shore.

Waves of waves

     fold and unfold.

One is many

      many is one.

To transcend 

    sea and land

where life eats life

and time is on time.

See the snake

swallow its tail

as death sheds

its shadow.


Like the ocean waves and the rising and setting of the sun, the ouroboros (a circle snake eating its own tail) expresses the unity of all things, material and spiritual, which disappear and re-appear; life perpetually changing form in an eternal cycle of destruction and re-creation. The ouroboros symbol shows not only the dualism of things, but also that these dualities can work together: “All is one.” The poem very rhythmically and repetitively expresses that movement. It also hisses when read out loud, especially at the end, as a result of all the long “s” sounds which are made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the teeth (“particles,” “waves of waves,” “one is many,” and “many is one”).


The artwork is accordion-folded: to read it, the viewer must rock from side to side like the experience of floating on a wave. In the views from the far left and far right, the words disappear behind the folds and reveal different moments in a wave on a beach.

OroborusBarbara Campbell
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