Monday, 7 November 2011

Science whimsy

This poem was written in 2005, evidently for a competition, though I can find no details of the competition other than the entry

"Universe, 2.2.2005 No"

in my poetry card index and

"Submitted sci and Strokestown poems"

in my diary for that date. It's more whimsy than science -- not one of those where I attempt to stumble along behind Clare's work in the field with talk of evidence, statistics etc. -- and it found success the following year, when it was highly commended in the Torbay competition. It didn't get published, but some competitions now rule out even the 'placed' poem from eligibility to enter. So I think this one merits the blog treatment.

The prediction in the final lines proved false. The new kettle needed replacement in a very short space of time.


OK – lines on Space, Time and Energy,
viewed through a chronic shortage of all three.

Space is our kitchen, with its working ring
of cupboard, cooking, table, sink, draining
and back to cupboard; Energy down metal
has water throb and pound inside the kettle;
and Time's the tale. Where shall I find the words,
kettle of eighteen years now burning cords?
Oh, since a kettle has no feelings, in
consigning cords and kettle to the bin,
and learning the new kettle, swiftly bought,
is hampered by a cord that is too short.
Not shorted, not short-fused, just short of length
to reach the power-point and draw down strength.
Moving the kettle to another place
would interrupt our working ring of space.
So I have gone and bought a longer cable,
greyed for hi-fi not kettles, this, and able
to blank out interfering signals. Well,
the kettle doesn't notice them, can't tell
the worth of this strong silence, maybe hears
discretion as obtuseness. So, for years,
the flex will serve the kettle watts, and dream
of music, pictures, data in the steam –
but know that as a keyboard's power cord,
mere muscle, it would be no less ignored.

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