Fractals and poetry


A Fractal Poem

    A fractal is an object that displays self-similarity — roughly, this means that the parts have the same shape as the whole — as in the following diagram which shows successive stages in the development of the “box fractal” (from Wolfram MathWorld).

Michigan poet Jack Ridl and I share an alma mater (Pennsylvania’s Westminster College) and we recently connected when I found mathematical ideas in the poems in his collection Broken Symmetry  (Wayne State University Press, 2006); from that collection, here is “Fractals” — offering us a poetic version of self-similar structure:

       Fractals    by Jack Ridl

On this autumn afternoon, the light
falls across the last sentence in a letter,
just before the last movement of Brahms’
Fourth Symphony, a recording made more
than 20 years ago, the time when we were
looking for a house to rehabilitate, maybe
       take out a wall and let the kitchen open
up into the living room, put in a window
so the morning light could fall across
the bed my wife’s grandmother made
the canopy for, the bed she slept in for
forty years. She was a doctor looking
for a town close enough that we can
drive past where she practiced, imagine
her picking up her violin when there
was time between patients, settle
it under her chin and play, looking
out the window into the same street we
drive down on our way to visit our
daughter in her studio. She creates
dresses, stitches turning into lines,
fabric turning into sculpture hanging
under her skylight, the dresses’ threads
knotted, their edges frayed. When
we knock on her door, she welcomes
us with cups of steaming tea, turns
down the jazz and kisses us. She
is happy in this light and later she
will ask us how we like our new place,
laugh when we begin to tell her all
our plans for tearing out the kitchen,
knocking out a wall so we can see
deep into the wood, along the creek
that twists itself around a pile of rocks
and through the trees. She makes us
dinner as we listen to Miles Davis,
“Birth of the Cool”—I always wonder
why he ended with a vocal, one
that sounds recorded twenty years
before. Its notes are sleepy,
the voices like smoke. At home
the dog and cats are sleeping. We
forgot to leave a light on for them,
but the radio is playing, and when we
get there, they will want to go outside.
The dog will pause for a scratch behind
his ears, his tail wagging as the cats
jump off the couch, hurry out the door,
disappear into the dark.
We’ll tune the radio to a symphony,
watch the moon harvesting
its light through the back window.

I  discovered Ridl’s collection while doing some background digging for other recent postings on fractals  —  16 December 2014 and 18 November 2014.  Fractals also are found in these earlier posts: 10 April 2014, 17 October 2010, and 14 May 2010.



About Katherine

I like art, poetry,history, literature,cooking,doing nothing to music.And conversation
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