Vale Cynthia Jobin

Sunflowers

On my return to blogging in April, I was deeply saddened to discover that one of my favourite poets of all time had died in December 2016.

Cynthia Jobin was a blogging friend and a masterful poet, whose art was superior in form, structure and rhythm. But what I love most in her work is the way she infused it with mischief. Her intellect and humour shines through her poetry.

Sadly, Cynthia’s WordPress site is no longer up. I hope her unpublished work will not be lost.

I will miss you, Little Old Lady. You were a beautiful light in the darkness.

https://uspandey.com/2016/12/25/goodbye-cynthia-jobin/

Cherry on the top

My work meeting finished at 4pm. I still had minutes to type but was also due to meet a friend for dinner and the theatre at 6:30pm on the other side of The Bridge.

Anybody who lives in Sydney knows that trying to get across the Sydney Harbour Bridge by car into the city from 5pm onwards gobbles time. So I made the journey at 4 and typed the minutes here. A lovely way to end the work day.

Look Up

bb - lu1

Concealed in the sameness
the faded blue suit
Clark Kent by day
Who cares, who cares to look?

But out there
when darkness falls
it’s kite-flying breathtaking riddles
out of dayshadows, an infinite teasing
of zetetic minds
unphysics exploding:

The Universe
ultimate mystery man.

Opposites

bb- opposites

Ugg Boot Face-off

To find oneself, at 50-something, studying astrobiology (under duress) as a subject in a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) degree is a little discombobulating, to say the least. Particularly if your last contact with the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics was some 30-odd years ago (and geology, never). But the university at which I’m studying crawling through my degree has a rule (which only came into effect after I started) that every undergraduate student must complete a Planet unit and a People unit outside of their stream in order to complete said degree.

So, every week this semester just past, a very grumpy band of Arts students, including me, would huddle together in the prac room, muttering furiously over concepts such as chirality; and biomarker composition; and whether the lump of rock before us was sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous; and whether another lump of rock before us was a stony, iron, or stony-iron, meteorite; and whether the earth was oxic or anoxic when another lump of rock before us was formed.

On the opposite side of the room, sat a bunch of engaged, aspiring astrobiologists, scientists and geologists, who spoke in a language even the polyglot Arts student doesn’t care much for. We were strange bedfellows; almost different species. 😀

What a discomfiting experience.

But, it blew my mind!

I learnt so much. About how far (and not) scientific knowledge has come since I was at school; why the exploration of our solar system (so what’s the big deal about a bunch of dead rocks and gassy balls in the sky?) is deeply interesting; the mysteries of the vast and strange universe that we find ourselves in; and, most fascinating of all, the extent of the microbial and extremophile world around, beneath, on, and in us. I even had a bit of fun with the Design-a-Lander-for-Titan assignment (the tutors mentioned that they were looking forward to the Arts students’ designs. Yeah, I thought, some comic relief).

There is much value in seeking out our opposites and differences in knowledge, beliefs, philosophies and interests.

What have you learnt recently that has broadened your mind?

Shanghai

Tonight

I’m in a city of 14.50 million

(give or take a few, including me)

souls. I know no-one

here. I’m a nano-human, a speck

in the smog. I make myself big

riding the subways with no-one

with light-coloured hair. No-one notices

the gweilo; the ghost-person, I think,

until I step into the deluge at Shanghai

Library, and a dark-haired

girl steps in time beside me,  her umbrella

banishing the rain, her words, my ghostliness

“Where are you going?

Can I take you there?”

image

 

 

 

The Unanswerable Question

Cynthia Jobin, over at  littleoldladywho.net, is one of the finest poets I’ve read. Her poems are exquisitely crafted, evocative, and at times wonderfully mischievous.

A recent poem of Cynthia’s – The Palpable Obscure – is a spine-tingling evocation of the ongoing mystification endured by those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one.  In it, she writes:

Once a day, at least, I stop to wonder
where you are.

Is this puzzlement not at the very heart of the Human Condition?

If my father were alive today, the 27th November 2015, he would be 83. I started this blog mainly as a response to the lingering grief I felt about his dying. And this poem, which I first posted on the 27th November 2010, is about the day he died.

Like Cynthia, I still wonder…

Eternal Mysteries ( a repost)

With the ring back on your finger
you sighed and slipped away
but forever it’s a mystery
where you went that day

Did you see them watching you
and whispering in your ear?
When you took your final journey,
did you know that they were there?

Did you sense that we were not?
No-one can ever know,
yet child-like we still ask ourselves –
that day, where did you go?

————————–

Change

Change (sometimes welcome, sometimes not) is an inevitable part of life and is etched in our histories.

I live in Australia and have extended family on four continents. We were all born and raised in Africa and in our lives there, as well as in our migrant lives, have experienced our fair share of change.

My husband and his siblings grew up in Africa, too, but his maternal grandparents, mother, and uncle were migrants from Sweden, where they had previously landed as refugees after fleeing from their homeland of Estonia (Australia would refer to them as boat people), when the Russians invaded Estonia in the 1940s. In their family, migration and change is epigenetic: my husband now lives in Australia, his middle sister in Sweden.

We have long wanted to visit the birthplace of their mother and maternal grandfather—the island of Hiiumaa off the coast of Estonia—and finally got to do so recently. Change is not always as good as a holiday, but a holiday often brings a welcome change of focus and pace, and we had wonderful trip.

Our journey first took us to Copenhagen, where we spent a convivial weekend catching up with dear cousins of mine over delicious home-cooked meals and copious amounts of wine.  bb-ch01

And then we had a wonderful two weeks with my husband’s sister and her husband (a Swede, who she met when he lived and worked for a time in Africa) in their beautiful home in semi-rural Sweden, an idyllic place.

Viking Rune Stones

Viking Rune Stones

Stockholm was next for a few days, where we experienced the charm of the cobbled streets of Gamla stan, the marvel that is the Vasa Museum, and the strange art in the Stockholm subways.

Ship Detail - Vasa Museum

Ship Detail – Vasa Museum

We caught the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, worth it alone to experience the beauty and vastness of the Stockholm archipelago. bb-ch03

Our few days in Tallinn left an impression of an aesthetic mix of the medieval, the modern, and the Soviet Brutalist. And the memory of the best coffee we had on our entire trip.

Old Town Tallinn

Old Town Tallinn

And, finally, we reached Hiiumaa – a place of wild beauty, ancient history, and, currently, peace.

Orjaku Harbour - Hiiumaa

Orjaku Harbour – Hiiumaa

Long may it remain unchanged.