Rhonda Batchelor

P. K. and I became friends in such an easy and gradual way; I don’t even recall where or when we first met, but likely at some literary gathering in Victoria. Certainly she was a frequent customer at The Hawthorne Bookshop, where I worked from 1990 to 2004. Whenever she came into the shop it was suddenly a very special day, somehow brighter,  full of purpose and energy. When she allowed my press, Reference West, the opportunity to publish her long poem, “Alphabetical” as a chapbook, and later, along with “Cosmologies,” in a gorgeous boxed set from Poppy Press, our meetings increased, but never ceased to feel like special occasions. Oh, those glorious late-afternoon visits to her home, when we’d settle in with drinks and our conversation would range from the mundane to the mystical. And what I wouldn’t give to once more answer my telephone and hear her voice at the other end. She had no need to identify herself; she would simply pronounce my name in her distinctive, deep, and playful voice—“RHON-da.” There was no one else on earth it could possibly be, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Rocks

I realize I’m early for tea, so drive down
to Cattle Point and park with the engine off.

Rain begins to patter and drum
on my car’s canvas top and I could be in a tent
on that certain beach in Ireland, watching
waves scroll over the feet of the gulls,
oblivious, on the rocks.

I’ll tell her you’ve left me and
my friend will pour whiskey instead of tea.

Love,
she’ll say.
It’s a mug’s game.

We’ll raise our glasses in a silent salute
and the whiskey will wash over the rocks.

P. K. Page

November 23rd, 1916—
January 14th, 2010

P. K. Page, University of Victoria, 1985

In 1985, the University of Victoria awarded Page an honorary Doctor of Letters. Photo courtesy of Michael Page.