Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Work-a-day Place

Yesterday, Glynn over at Faith, Fiction, Friends responded to L.L. Barkat's invitation at Seedlings in Stone to write, In Place. A descriptive verse, paragraph, essay about your workspace.

I was at work and took five minutes to jot down my desktop -- to have described the general 'artistic' disarray of my office would have taken much longer!

Later in the day, L.L. Barkat dropped into my blog to invite me to post my poetic discourse with a link on Seedlings In Stone. So, here I am describing my work-a-day place. My morning space is another view...

Now, it must be remembered I am the 'odd man out' on the management team at the homeless shelter where I work. I am fundamentally creative. Artistic. A free thinker, or, as my eldest daughter laughed and said last night while we were at Chapters browsing the books and I momentarily kicked up my heels to tap dance my way closer to her as Frank Sinatra sang "My Way" over the pa system, "A true free spirit."

Like my fundamental leanings to the creative, my office leans towards the chaotic. Bookcases line one wall. Art books. Art paper. Art utensils. A pair of child's red leather shoes, worn and scuffed rest beside a vase filled with multi-coloured markers. The shoes were used in a photo shoot for a commercial that my predecessor undertook many years ago -- not sure they've ever been dusted but even dust has its place. The markers used every day to highlight whatever my whimsical nature feels needs highlighting -- or to add a touch of colour just because! There are books on PR. Fundraising. Wellness and spirituality. And, a stack of paper's I've read, to be read, to be filed, to be kept just in case.

Windows line the wall beside my desk and the opposite wall from the bookcase has a print of an A.Y. Jackson lake scene in the fall and one of my large paintings of waterlillies all luminous blues and pinks and greens and blurry like a Monet because I love the impressionists and I so get this thing with dimming eye sight and age that softens sharp edges and rough corners.

On the far wall where the door enters, or exits depending upon your perspective, another window and a row of black and white photos of the people and places around the shelter. A long low wooden filing cabinet, the top of which is mostly consumed by a huge vase of silk flowers that were donated and no one knew what to do with and I figured my office could always use the colour and the froth and, a painting by one of our clients.

Amidst the social workers and PhDs in education and social work and one financial guru whose personality generates lots of pushback, my creative leanings often tip the balance between doing things 'the old way because that's how we've always done them' and 'let's see what happens when we expand our thinking to embrace the unknown'. I've learned to be patient and gentle in my approach though sometimes I forget myself and push into the unknown not sure whose following and not really all that concerned if they're there, or not. Change doesn't come easy in a place where change has brought people to this brink of nothing other than the clothes on their backs. And only change will get them somewhere else.

And then... there's my desk. The poetic verse I posted yesterday in a five minute break from working on my report on "Cycling in and out of Homelessness. A study of the repetitive nature of homelessness in the lives of clients at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre". In the midst of client interviews and statistics and facts and assumptions, I often find taking a creative dip propels my thinking into new zones and new ideas that enhance whatever I'm working on.

In place

my desktop strewn
with papers and a pink water bottle
and my favourite mug creamy white
on the outside
a red dove embossed on its side,
red on the inside
three origami swans,
several heart rocks
smooth stones
one says,
another Fearless
I am Fearless
I Believe in my dreams
An Inushtuk a client gave me
he carved it himself
soap stone warmed by hands
gnarled by time
like rocks formed by heat
and the pressing of time
and the passing of years
a photo of my daughters
the view out my window to the south
the SaddleDome a giant sagging hump
lining the horizon
three dried roses
a paper weight gifted to me
by the Government of Canada,
a copper maple leaf embedded in glass
the copper from the roof of the Parliament buildings
Two postits stuck to my computer monitor
from my daughters
One yellow
One blue
I love you.
I love you too!
An open magazine,
quote circled
"artists navigate complex systems all the time.
they make sense of the world in shifting times."
Collin Funk, Banff Centre
Creative Programming Director.
A report
half finished
notes in margins
notes circled like so much
half finished
done up
ready to be completed
ready to be
side lined
on my desk.


L.L. Barkat said...

I totally loved this poem and am so glad you posted it!!! :)

Maureen said...

As delightful a read the second time as the first!

Joyce Wycoff said...

I love thinking that the Parliament building has a hole in its roof because it's part of the artistic jumble of your desk. Perhaps it's your way of letting fresh air into the bureaucratic process.

I think I got more creative just reading about your desk. Thanks

Billy Coffey said...

Love, LOVE, that poem. And I can sympathize.