Friday, February 24, 2017

Trappist Telescopes and Other Inspirations

When I heard about the seven planets discovered by the telescope named Trappist, I thought, what a name for a telescope!  I've spent days thinking about what a monastic order has in common with a telescope and space exploration.

Not one piece of news coverage talked about the name of the telescope, so this morning, I stopped resisting my impulse to look it up.  I had no idea the name was an acronym.  The letters stand for:  Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope.

The Wikipedia article says that it was named in homage of the religious order known for brewing beer.  Hmm.  When I think of Trappists, I don't think of beer.  I think of vows of silence and stubbornly enduring fierce landscapes--which makes sense for a telescope.

Yesterday's poem had monastic elements, but not outer space elements:  it compared the life of a mother with a baby and a toddler to the lives lived by monks.  I started thinking about it because of a Facebook friend's post about getting up to feed the baby periodically throughout the night and how the monks get praise for this practice, but not nursing moms.

This morning, I wrote another poem, which had its beginnings last week, before the news of the Trappist telescope and the 7 planets.  The beginning of the poem came to me in an image of an older woman unpacking a box of things from her youth.  What does she find there?  A red cape.

When I sat down this morning, I wasn't sure what else she would find.  She finds a drop spindle and a pot in which she used to prepare porridge.  In that pot, she plants the apple seeds that she finds in the box.  She wears the glass slippers to church, but remembers why she put them in the box. 

This line might be my favorite from this morning's writing:  She feels her feet exhale when she sets them free.

Or maybe this line, from my short story that's written in the voice of an HR director:  "Any time I overhear the tiresome argument about whether or not an Ed.D. is the equivalent of a Ph.D., I think of the other meanings of the word 'terminal.'”

And thus concludes this morning's writing session:  off to school for an early morning meeting to discuss student success and retention and then to continue to audit student files.  But the most important work of the day has already been done.

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