2017-10-07

Devotions (dedicated to Brenda Levy Tate)

(Dedicated to Brenda Levy Tate)


My favourite of Brenda's recent photos
this has everything: a galaxy, a self-portrait,
an outhouse...
Brenda is somebody I know but have never met.  Thus is the power of the internet.  Brenda and I used to hang out with other like-ish minded individuals on a poetry forummany years ago now.  We shared and critiqued work, we chatted of this and that...

More recently I've known her on Facebook, and I've come to appreciate the great love she has for her family, and the region where she lives (Yarmouth in Nova Scotia); her on-going quest for interesting bargains in the local shops (the "interesting" is more important to her than the "bargain")...  She also often shares her concern for her fellow inhabitants, their political travails, and the local weather and its impact on the fishing crews (some of whom she's related to...)

But the most wonderful thing about Brenda is her unreasonable devotion to staying up all night, or getting up at 6:00 a.m., or even 3:00 a.m. and going out alone into the surrounding countryside for no reason except to photograph the stars.

This photograph here is my favourite recent example, and this poem is a recent one of hers that won first place in the IBPC poetry competition for January 2017.  This site contains some of her photography, although not a huge amount of the astrophotography which she admits needs updating.

Is Brenda my friend?  Can you have a friend you have never met and never will meet?

The answer, of course, is it doesn't matter!  Labels are not required.  The internet has invented several new types of friendship over the years, and no doubt will again.  The fact that, as a species we can invent new kinds of friendship: that's surely something hopeful, something worth devoting ourselves to...







Devotions

After she leaves the nunnery, her suitcase waits
for the shuttle bus, patient in Italian dust.
She returns to Coventry, to rain and rooms
with a distant Aunt.  She is adrift.  She tries

to lift her mood in the public library
but chances into the reference section
and reads it all.  Three years later she upgrades
to a visitor's ticket at the University;

still lost, but finds Philosophy to be filled
with many helpful guides.  She chats with Plato;
hides from Nietzsche; finds Kant natural
but Heidegger hard and chances at last

on Teilhard de Chardin who takes her in hand.
They hike four hundred Dewey Decimals north
to land in Astrophysics, right next to Carl Sagan
and the world moves

the very next day in Morrisons--her palm
against fluorescents is filled with brighter light.
We are star stuff.  We are golden.  And as for the Garden...
it's obvious we've never left.
 
***

The check-out assistant frowns,
but sells the apple anyway.

***

Most mornings now she jogs, and in the afternoons
her job at the railway information desk
will let her set lost travellers on their way.

So much for the days.  In the evenings she returns
to the tiny room.  She has travelled now so far
that light leaving the Abbess at T = 0
will never catch her up.

Sometimes she works on relating theory
to everything; sometimes she sits
and watches stars go past the window. 



2017-09-29

Sept 29th - The agency...





The agency...

...reserves the right to terminate its staff
at any time.  The agency requires
your secret pocket phone upon your person,
turned on, and with the flex not tied in knots,
for twenty-four hours in the day.  We may
at our discretionsubject our personnel
to physicals or medicals or days
mysteriously missing from their week...

...because, the agency...

...henceforth known as The Agency, at will
may, without prejudice, amend your friends
to suit its needs, inserting random strangers:
have you met "Denise"; and rubbing out weird Joe
who once you were quite keen to know and who
still makes you laugh sometimes.  We will provide
a set of field-expedient manuals
with all the humour you require.  We are...

...the agency...

and may place items in your Twitter feed,
your shopping trolley, or your secret heart.
Dating co-workers is required, but please
check codewords every time you meet, and sex
must be according to the book.  Ask for:
A15-brackets-B-stroke-W
(or F-dash-C for colour illustrations.)
For clarity, the sum of agents is...
...the agency...

...and we express no preference for gender,
creed or colour; so neither should you, either
for your self, nor for your special friends.  Agents
need to respect the social order only
for psychological profiling.  You are
a professional intelligence worker:
no t-shirts, beanie hats, or jeans.  Which means
when you are undercover you deny...

...the agency...

three times, or else you're violating our
dress code.  We are ISO 5000 accredited,
a best-in-class spy-service provider.  You...are a suit with a badge.




2017-09-26

Sept 26th - This is the epiphany room...



This is the epiphany room...


...it has to be furnished in this way
for you and at this time.  Do not
attempt to turn on the light, do not
try to force it.  That never works.

This is the faithfulness door:
as long as you don't try it, why,
it is not locked.  You may, however,
enter the room at any time...

...although the how and why of it
are left as an exercise for you.
We did not feel it right to do,
or rather give, it all.  Now watch,

this is the revelation switch:
rest your finger lightly on the top.
OK, I think that that's enough!
Go back into the darkness now...

...but always remember this
was the epiphany room.
We thought that you should know
it was here.