Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Poet Among the Engineers

Recently, Sir James Dyson was in the headlines for deriding the study of 'French lesbian poetry' at university, a subject apparently in demand among 'little Angelina[s]' everywhere.

I don't normally write in response to current events, or put poems into the public domain so quickly, but I couldn't resist in this case. Dyson's comments immediately put me in mind of Fleur Adock's 'The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers', which provided the inspiration for the poem below.

The Poet Among the Engineers
after Fleur Adcock, for Sir James Dyson

The engineers are hunched at their desks,
patter their keyboards with finger-tip rain,
siphon data up from the labs
where prototypes spin in man-made storms

and spines of metal are stressed ‘til they snap
like wishbones. Each shudder throws a peak
on the graph that shows these men how useful
they are, how worthy of praise that she fails –

h̩las! Рto dispense. She slinks across
carpet-tiles, scratches a dance of sparks
from her killer heels, paces out –
perhaps – some dithyramb of desire,

composes couplets that fail to rhyme
on the names of those engineers. Her scent,
her lulling voice will muss their lines
of clear decision, for which they’ll hate

as men can only hate those things
they’ll never own, or cancel out
or comprehend. She moves on quickly,
smuggles her song through the hum of machines.

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