November-27-15: I come upon mom and dad in the living room of my childhood home, sharing something private. Dad’s chest is bare, revealing two huge breasts. I don’t know how to respond, so I joke: “Lucky you. Now you have your own breasts to play with.” Neither parent replies.
My baby sister is just a few months old, but she is precocious. “Hi, Jenny,” she greets me in a high treble. When I correct her, she points to herself and says another coherent phrase. She has been lying alone in her bassinet all night, so she must be wet, cold and hungry. I bring her in to mom, who’s lying in her bedroom, sleeping off labour by herself. The poor baby seems to dissolve into a puddle in the bed, with swirls of scarlet in a viscous liquid.
Though it’s night, I lead mom by the hand to the swamp outside our door. We traipse through…
First day of the Goddess month of Bridhe, sacred to the Celtic and Britannic Goddess variously called Brigit, Bridhe, Brigantia and later, St. Bridget. As shown here, she is also called the Triple Brighids, and is one of the most widely-revered manifestations of the Triple Goddess. She is the protector of the eternal creative flame that maintains the vitality of the natural world, and is the patron of warriors and of all practitioners of feminine arts and crafts, most notably the occult disciplines of divination, witchcraft, herb and star lore, and prophecy. She is also represented by the spirals that appear constantly in Celtic art. Her totemic animals are the ram and the ox, her sacred plant the blackberry.
Celebrating P.K. Page, who died at 93 on January 14, 2010, in Victoria, B.C.
Elegant and gracious in her work and her life…
P.K. Page came to visit us on Ward’s Island, Toronto in the fall of 1973. I’d arranged for her to come and read then in the poetry series I was organizing at A Space. The weather was blustery so we had the oil stove puffing and popping away in the middle of our living room. You have to imagine the elderly Island cottage, without much insulation, and with two small children crawling underfoot. P.K. was dressed to the nines in a glamorous cape and armloads of silver jewellery. But at the stove’s first growl, she leapt up and alighted for the evening on the couch arm closest to the door. She’d had an oil stove explode on her before and she was taking no chances! But she made that perch hers, crossing her legs elegantly, and gallantly discussed poetry and poets until the last boat swept her away to the city.
My sweet oils implode upon his sinus as cough.
Red-rimmed eyes implore me to come clean.
Stripped of perfume, I’m a layer naked, still
aggrieved to lose those ancient pleasures I
was so accustomed to wrap myself around.
What’s noxious to one is humdrum to another’s
sense. Out at the service station, I hide my
throbbing head in scarves, breathing in old
scents while, undeterred by oil or gas spill,
to fill our tank, he braves car, truck or diesel.
Their fumes set me fuming: rendered direct to
my temples as dark clouds over the autobahn.
I’m off and roaring before the car is. Exhausted
by exhaust, what was my nervous system crawls
to its last redoubt and screeches, shrivels like a
cockroach sprayed by Raid. The map of my brain must
be all nose, homunculus sniffing out new terrain for
sachets of fonder memories in the glove compartment.
Flowers, I gasp. Give me instead whole acres of bright
pollen pounded to mere ounces of essential oil.
“So,” he announces, hopping back into the driver’s seat.
“We’re all gassed up. Ready for a day in the country?”
Our coniunctio oppositorum is the margin of air where
Pollution Gage meets Pollen Count. “I am if you are.”
In partnerships these days, sensitive is sensitized.
“It’s a pleasure to read such well-crafted poetry—I anticipate that our burgeoning readership will enjoy it immensely. Thank you.”
Jason Sears, editor.
London, ON poet, activist and playwright Penn Kemp (M.Ed.) is London’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Penn is the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word artist of the year and their 40th Life Member. Her most recent work is From Dream Sequins, Lyrical Myrical Press, Toronto, and Jack Layton Art in Action, which she edited for Quattro Books, Toronto. A prolific artist, Penn has to date published over twenty-five books and had six plays produced. She is one of Canada’s most active performance poets, with ten CD’s to her credit, many videopoems and Canada’s first poetry CD-ROM.