Vapor, steam: frequently imperceptible to our eyes, unless they cross the path of a direct beam of light.
Yet, once that beam is crossed, the light reveals such beautiful designs–phantasmal curls, swirls, and ribbons.
It brings to mind one poet’s speculations on the nature of the soul:
But as the faire and cheerful Morning light.
Doth here and there her silver beams impart,
And in an instant doth herself unite
To the transparent air, in all, and part :
Still resting whole, when blows th’ air divide ;
Abiding pure, when th’ air is most corrupted ;
Throughout the air, her beams dispersing wide,
And when the air is tossed, not interrupted :
So doth the piercing Soul the body fill,
Being all in all, and all in part diffus’d ;
Indivisible, incorruptible still,
Not forc’t, encountered, troubled or confused.
And as the sun above, the light doth bring,
Though we behold it in the air below ;
So from th’ Eternal Light the Soule doth spring,
Though in the body she her powers do show.
–Sir John Davies, Nosce Teipsum, lines 899-924
(Many thanks to Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope and Poetry for introducing me to Davies’ work)