Voice of Andrea

Background notes on this poem:

  • I knew Andrea Currie through yoga, when I lived in Halifax in the early-mid-1980’s. She joined the a capella group Four The Moment while I was still there, and I loved her singing voice as much as her soft speaking voice and gentle manner.
  • She once made and gave me a string of origami paper cranes, which, as I understand it, have been a Japanese symbol of longevity and became a symbol of peace after a little girl, victim of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing, took on the project of making as many paper cranes as she could before she died of cancer.
  • Voice of Women is a non-partisan Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) advocating for a world without war. They used to sell the poster I describe in the poem, and I hung my copy of it in the hallway where it could remind me every day to be hopeful that each and every little voice does make a difference.

Voice of Andrea

Only one more voice is needed to bring peace into the world. from Voice of Andrea, a poem by Marian Buchanan. copyright Marian Buchanan. MarianBuchanan.com

Through dusty glass pane
the branches outside my window
seem to bathe in smokey blue-grey.
They nod
in rhythm
to the heartbeat
of the wind,
sweep the illusory thickness
like fingers trailing thoughtlessly through water.

A leaf becomes deliberate in its wobble,
strokes,
with licking motion,
the reflection
of my gently-spinning paper cranes.
Double panes against the cold
have multiplied the mobile into many ghosts,
potentialities in smokey limbo.
For every voice that speaks aloud
there are ten more whispers dawning.

On the wall in the hallway
a Voice-of-Women poster
tells the story
of the coalmouse asking
what is the weight of a snowflake.
“Nothing more than nothing”
says the dove in reply.
How then does a branch
break
under the fall
of one last crystal?
Only one more voice is needed
to bring peace into the world.

Outside my window
the branches nod.
I think of Andrea
folding pink paper into
origami messages of peace,
giving me this gift.

Andrea’s voice
is sweet and true when she sings.
Andrea’s voice
is gentle when she talks.
Soft like a whisper,
like a delicate miracle of water taking shape,
using harsh conditions of cold
to make
patterns of intricate beauty.

Copyright © Marian Buchanan, 1989

Abstract self-portrait

When I attended l’École supérieure des beaux-arts de Tour, in France in 1972, one of the assignments was to create an abstract self-portrait. I never got around to painting the final version, but this is the coloured-pencil sketch I did for it.

My idea for it was the experience that there are no boundaries to the Self except the artificial ones of any frame that cordons off an almost arbitrary pocket of the swirling pattern of the universe. The swirls continue beyond what is visible, connected inseparably with the rest of oneness. The blues and greens of this abstract self-portrait were the quiet colours I felt most comfortable with, and so that corner of the universe is where the kernel of seed-like heart energy nestled, but there is no real reason to consider the visible pocket to be the extent of who or what I am. Now, as at age 18, this is still how I experience my selfhood, when I consider it at all.

I do so now because of the paradox of the exercise I am about to engage in: making “myself” visible to “the world” in a more “personal” way than I have so far done through my income-earning-related online presence. In effect, saying, “This is me as a person.”

To do this, I am cordoning off a pocket of the web to serve as a living space for sharing the person-based endeavours of the personality connected to this particular vortex of swirls. Setting up a domain name that is my “actual” name in the social sense might seem to be a bit steeped in the ego aspect of selfhood. Yet being in the world does manifest as a certain localization of apparent personality, and so, here I am.