This poem was written about how the things that we wrestle with in the darkness of night, mark us; change us; shape us; give form to us even when we do not know their name. And so it borrows as metaphor from the story of Jacob, being marked in the night by the angel he wrestled with unaware of its angelic nature.
Written after a workshop put on by a Canadian Forces Military Family Resource Centre. There was a veteran of the Iraq war in the audience listening to a fellow veteran talk about his deployment in Afghanistan. I had never experienced before a grief that was so contained but so palpable that you could almost feel yourself breathing it in
This is not a hard SF poem. It borrows, for purpose of metaphor, the notion of particles separated by space but entangled by previous contact. Maybe someday, there will be a poem about actual entanglement. Think of this, in the meantime, as SciFi with no happily ever after.
“There's no use trying,” she said: “one can't believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven't had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lewis Carroll, The Red Queen and Alice from Alice in Wonderland
Inspiration came from Tracee Ellis Ross' TED talk in Vancouver, British Columbia (April 2018). Tracee reflects on the fury of a friend who had experienced being moved out of the way by a man who wanted to get access to something that she was "blocking" as she stood filling out forms. His hands on her body and then moving her out of his way.
I've been taking a Fairy Tale course with Joanna Gilar, a professor from Sussex, and this week we started Little Red Riding Hood - who I think is probably my favourite faery tale heroine. A number of poems have been written. These are in pretty raw form and may go through an edit or twenty but I decided to post them up as is for now so that I can link to them for my fellow course attendees.
Life does not always happen on schedule. Life rarely happens on schedule. It is an ongoing improvisational dance. Not always to music we have danced to before. Sometimes to music we don't even like. But it is always a dance of possibilities and of moments; of fears and longings, hopes and dreams. And of people.
While I have a deep and abiding love for the Folk of the Sea, I have always found most of the selkie stories profoundly disturbing. That a man would think that his loneliness should justify the stealing of a woman's life so that his own would be more whole is not a thing of love. It is possession, perhaps obsession but it is not, no matter how pretty the stories try to make it, an act of love. The tragedy is doubled in that the selkie maid is put forever between choosing the life she has been exiled from and the lives that she has birthed on the land. The love in these stories always comes in the end, where the child looks upon their mother's hidden skin and set her free, no matter the cost to them all of that choice.
One of the prompts for creative for our final week of the Fairy Tale Atlas course was to consider how we could use "The Frog King" tale today as space for ecological exploration of our relationship to water. And I thought about how frogs are one of our indicator species in terms of their vulnerability to changes in the water ecosystem ...
It's about the loss of privacy ... I think ... I'm not a luddite in any way, though sometimes I yearn for the days where communication was a lot harder and you had to really think about whether you actually wanted to talk in person or not.
It is a poem about tone policing as a mechanism used to shut down dissenting voices and to tune out justifiable anger that must be redressed whether that is environmental, #IdleNoMore, the #MeToo movement, or the urgency of #BlackLivesMatter.
All the poems written on the Faery Tale page are the creative output of the opportunity to sit for an hour each week and talk with women from all over Great Britain and North America about our readings of all the various wonderful versions of the old tales, modern and traditional. So much creative potential.
The first evening that we were in Dartmoor at The Wandering Court, Dr. Martin Shaw, the bard for the weekend retreat, warmed us up with the story of the Birth of Oisín, the Irish warrior-poet of the Fenian cycle of hero tales about Finn MacCumhaill (MacCool) and his war band, the Fianna Éireann. After the storyhour, we all moved outside, gathering round a small fire by the pasture where we waited to see whether the Wolf Moon would reveal itself before the eclipse was over.
One of the discussions we had in the seminar on Little Red was the degree to which the Wolf was demonized by Church and by the ordinary people. The story of Little Red reflects a particular point in time when the Wolf's reputation in Europe was not informed by our modern understanding of the critical need for this apex predator in an ecosystem to maintain its health. And the health of all the members of that ecosystem. There are hints of that in the alchymical relationship between Little Red and the Wolf, if viewed as a rite of passage story.