Archive for February, 2010

What PK Page means to me

PK Page doesn’t know it, but she named me. She wasn’t by my mother’s side when the latter pushed me into this strange world, but she wrote a poem bearing my name that I discovered only after I had claimed a new identity for myself. Because of PK Page, my chosen name finally felt just right. Her poem goes like this:

Stefan
aged eleven
looked at the baby and said
When it thinks it must be pure thought
because he hasn’t any words yet
and we
proud parents
admiring friends
who had looked at the baby
looked at the baby again

PK Page had a way of making people feel wisdom through her poems. And I was lucky to hear her share her wisdom in person at an event in her hometown of Victoria, BC a few years back. One of the poems she read that day was this gem, based on four lines of a Pablo Neruda poem:

Planet Earth
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet,
has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness;
and the hands keep on moving,
smoothing the holy surfaces.
—– In Praise of Ironing by Pablo Neruda

It has to be loved the way a laundress loves her linens,
the way she moves her hands caressing the fine muslins
knowing their warp and woof,
like a lover coaxing, or a mother praising.
It has to be loved as if it were embroidered
with flowers and birds and two joined hearts upon it.
It has to be stretched and stroked.
It has to be celebrated.
O this great beloved world and all the creatures in it.
It has to be spread out, the skin of this planet.

The trees must be washed, and the grasses and mosses.
They have to be polished as if made of green brass.
The rivers and little streams with their hidden cresses
and pale-coloured pebbles
and their fool’s gold
must be washed and starched or shined into brightness,
the sheets of lake water
smoothed with the hand
and the foam of the oceans pressed into neatness.
It has to be ironed, the sea in its whiteness.

and pleated and goffered, the flower-blue sea
the protean, wine-dark, grey, green, sea
with its metres of satin and bolts of brocade.
And sky – such an 0! overhead – night and day
must be burnished and rubbed
by hands that are loving
so the blue blazons forth
and the stars keep on shining
within and above
and the hands keep on moving.

It has to be made bright, the skin of this planet
till it shines in the sun like gold leaf.
Archangels then will attend to its metals
and polish the rods of its rain.
Seraphim will stop singing hosannas
to shower it with blessings and blisses and praises
and, newly in love,
we must draw it and paint it
our pencils and brushes and loving caresses
smoothing the holy surfaces.

She understood the interconnectedness of things like few others do — and that gives her poems a mythic quality. Her insight about the world and our place in it inspires me to constantly challenge myself to look at the way I move through my life, to recognize the divine in the everyday. And to aim for beauty, always, in everything I do. Because really, what else is there?

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February 8, 2010 at 4:38 am Leave a comment


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