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.