Kim Trainor


Maybe it went like this: at the confluence of the Whitemud
and the Blackmud, a blank spring light that sliced open
the snow, everything bare and desolate and dormant, and you
and me both out of joint, quarrelling.
                                                                            Maybe you’d said
it would be an easy hike and it was hard, as soon as we’d crossed
the turquoise metal bridge scrubbed raw by seasons of cold—
mud, then slush, wet snow, slick ice, mud.
Bright spots—splashes of choke cherry and scarlet threads
of dogwood. A tiny nest woven with shreds of paper birch bark.
In the last hour we made a steep descent down a pitched tongue
of ice, grasping at roots and slender trunks at the path’s edge,
followed by a scramble up a lick of mud. Glimpse of an oxbow
on one side, the rushing creek below.
                                                                            And maybe it was ugly
and beautiful, and there was still Havdala and a hockey game
to go. So at the end of the night of this very long day
before the day of my leaving, which is so hard, I cry
in the dark, thinking you’re asleep. And maybe you turn to me
and say, you’re exhausted, you need to sleep, I’ll hold you.
And then you sing Kol Dodi— I was asleep but my heart was awake.
The voice of my beloved knocks, saying, open to me
my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled.

My eyes filled with dew. I was drowned in sleep.

from Seeds

6.                                                                                                                                                        TARDIGRADE

Analog 1

Analog 2

Analog 3

Analog 4

These instructions contain four analog entries comprised of this set of instructions; the first three verses of Genesis; a human child’s line drawing of a stick figure; a primer to a fraction of the Earth’s 7,111 languages. Followed by a brief statement on existential threats and archival cultures, which has been handwritten in a small notebook, then translated into binary code and printed by lasers. Followed by a haiku. This poem can be read by the naked eye.

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ׃
והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך על פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על פני המים׃
ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי אור׃

Brief statement on Existential Threats and Archival Cultures, written in a small notebook and then translated into digital code and printed by lasers.
First there were handprints outlined in reverse by mixing a paste of red ochre and spit and blowing this through a hollowed out bone. Then stitched leather pouches to hold seeds etc., then scrolls, pyramids, and codices. These have all lasted millennia and were analog before it was cool to be analog. Then came microfiche on plastic sheets that will probably degrade or melt in about a hundred years or in the event of a catastrophic event. In the meantime, along came digital formats, 0s and 1s punched into IBM cards by female keypunchers like my mother circa 1974, then microchips and thumb drives. Information coded in synthetic DNA or grafted onto the DNA of living plants such as Nicotiana benthamiana (common tobacco) that can in theory grow whole libraries from seeds. (Imagine walking through a park that is actually a library, every plant, flower and shrub full of archived information.) Then back to analog again with optical nanolithography, letters the size of a bacillus bacterium etched onto glass and then filigreed with atoms of nickel; layers and layers of this stuck together with epoxy resin holding the DNA and hair follicles of a venture capitalist, as well as a pinch of tardigrades, who also, in their dormant state have their cells replaced by a protein that resembles glass—and all of this shot to the moon on the Beresheet rocket which crashed 11 April 2019. Probably the tardigrades survived.

Haiku for the Beresheet lander

                                                            Moon’s lunar
                                                            Lunar of the bears!
                                                            the survive’s carried through

                                                                                          —after Issa

Epigraph: Screenshot of “Ancient, near-indestructible ‘water bears’ have crash landed on the moon.” CBC Radio. Posted Aug 07, 2019. www.cbc.ca/radio/as-it-happens-wednesday-edition-1.5238824/ancient-near-indestructible-water-bears-have-crash-landed-on-the-moon-1.5238831.
Drawing by Finn Donegan.
Words for “seed” in various languages, courtesy Google Translate and FirstVoices website.
Haiku for the Beresheet lander generated by www.languageisavirus.com/interactive-haiku-generator.php

Kim Trainor is a Canadian poet, the granddaughter of an Irish banjo player and a Polish faller who worked in the logging camps around Port Alberni in the 1930s. Her second book, Ledi, short-listed for the 2019 Raymond Souster Award, describes the excavation of an Iron Age horsewoman’s grave in the steppes of Siberia. Her next book is Bluegrass. Her poetry has won the Gustafson Prize, the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, and the Great Blue Heron Prize. She teaches in the English Department at Douglas College and lives in Vancouver, unceded homelands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
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