From night’s horizon
sweep in yowls and howls
across the polar plain.
Glacial blue dims.
The sharpest window opens above:
stars minted by the chill.
Today’s prompt for A Poem A Day October was, “Write a poem incorporating the concept of being ‘frozen,’ whether literal or not.”
All day I have been mulling over the idea of ‘frozen’ as a transition state of water, rather than a state of matters set. In preparation for my idea doodling, I found a recording of Sinfonia Antarctica (Vaughan Williams) on Spotify. An image search online yielded this Guardian photo-essay about spending 9 winter months in Antarctica at the Concordia Station. In the article, the clear view of the stars above earth is mentioned.
Our eyes cannot see
through the polished cufflinks
and clean underwear put on that morning;
over the same legs that walk past you
and sway in the train when it breaks;
the same arms that hold groceries
and hand them over at the till;
the usual pleasantries made with the cashier
whose body is later found in the field.
After reading this article written by the husband of a woman who had been murdered, I have been thinking about the topic of ordinary killers. I’m not beyond imagining that we’re all capable of extremes of harm and violence. However, I wonder how it is that there are ordinary men who walk among us, who put on their clean clothes, take transport, buy groceries and – at some point in their existence – take someone else’s life.
It’s gendered manifestations of such ordinary violence that bothers me. And that in many instances the perpetrator is often known by the victim. And, indeed, by a wider community in which they both exist.
Do engineers dream
of eiderdown chairs
and perhaps a world
Do they poke
with soft pencils
at yesterday’s dreams
and the monstrous dark
in the bedsit?
Do they skilfully rush
to the day’s blasting rays
at the stretch of a morning
which never delays?
I know a few engineers and they are interesting people. Many of them have a creative side or an interest in the arts. However, in profession binaries engineering (like those other sensible paths: law, medicine, business) is often set in opposition to creative professions in art, music, dance and writing.
The engineers in this poem are, of course, a one-dimensional group set in opposition with an understood, yet unmentioned artist. These engineers cannot imagine a world where chairs are made of feathers or objects to do not respond to predetermined scientific givens. With an assured, strategic and rational understanding of their lives and the world, they choose to neither entertain nostalgia nor awaken melancholia. In new experiences they are guided by caution, or even attempt to avoid change. But change, like new mornings, proceeds with its own regularity.
To all my engineering (legal, medical, business and scientific) friends who carry artist’s souls, please indulge the binary. To my artist friends – I know full well that many of us are interested in scaffolding, load-bearing walls, the chemistry of glazes and neuroscience research. It is a great pity that in the myth of professions we are set against each other by the monies and social prestige allotted to our disciplines.
Under those blasting rays, may we all sit together on eiderdown chairs, poking at our dreams with soft pencils.