Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lost Art of Listening to the Land


White Buffalo Calf Woman
Art by Rogue Guirey Simpson 


White Buffalo Calf Woman 
holds a sacred white calf in her arms.
See their tears flowing, mingling,
with red blood and rain from Mother Earth,
cascading down the mountain slopes,
bouncing off cliff faces that wear
the eyes of the ancestors,
stoic, resigned to our unceasing folly,
our refusal to wake up, to see
what is plainly before us.
Mighty river roaring through the gorge
storms the mountain pass,
trees waving their arms in distress,
Mother Wind battering the earth
with pounding rain,
a furious housecleaning,
trying to rid herself of parasites and vermin
clinging to her skin.

There is a thin keening in the wildwoods,
cries of the young and their dams,
all hungry and ever in search of a home
away from the Two-Leggeds
who stalk them to the end of their lives, 
walking ghosts with no eyes
and small, unawakened hearts.

Every inch of this earth is alive, and beautiful.
Every inch of this earth is alive, and suffering.

The pale ones wander the earth
in search of their vanished spirits.
Who will call their souls back into their bodies?

The blood of the fallen trees is on the land,
which is grieving bitterly.
The stones that receive their blood
hold strong healing for ones who know they are ill.
Hold one in your hand.
Feel, and listen, for the spirit in the stone,
the ancient memory it holds.
It will speak to you
in the language of mountains and rivers,
tell you of long-gone times upon the land,
when buffalo coloured the landscape brown
and then, so bitterly, red,
and then were gone.

The stones, the land, remembers.
Listen, for all this earth has to teach us
about being alive.


from 2014, inspired by Tim Lilburn's Ghost Song. Traveling through the mountain pass from Tofino to Port Alberni, I began to see faces in the cliffs. The ride was wild and stormy, water cascading down the cliffs, rivers wild. The land was speaking, as it always is.

Lakota legend prophecies  teach that the return of the white buffalo indicates the peoples' prayers are being heard, and a time of peace and plenty is at hand. How we long for this to be true!

posted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry, wonderful reading with your coffee every Sunday morning. I have been trying to fight off a stubborn virus for two weeks now, kids. Forgive my being so far behind. Am trying to keep up as best I can.

35 comments:

  1. "furious housecleaning." Yes.

    Hope you feel better soon, Sherry!

    ReplyDelete
  2. One day, may we learn and listen, to the greater world around us. My dad taught me, as a child, to respect the gift that Mother Earth has given us, freely.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That last stanza is stunning Sherry. I love the way you give a voice to nature. It is truly beautiful what I hear when you do. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. First, Sherry, so sorry that you've been ill. Hope you are feeling better. Then, it's so wonderful that you write your ecological poetry! It is much more than that, but certainly it is a spirit and voice that is much needed, and yours speaks to many. Thanks. k.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved this poem. It was so powerful. You drew me into your world, earth's world. Thanks. Hope you're better now.

    Greetings from London.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Indeed we do need to learn from the land what it means to be alive. Every inch of the land IS indeed beautiful. We need to learn to appreciate & take care of it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh how I agree with you as in Australia the pristine Great Barrier reef off northern Queensland is increasingly being used as a shipping lane for oil tankers and ore carriers because it is the easiest route endangering wildlife and the reef itself.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The image of "trees waving their arms in distress" will stay with me for a long time. We miss so much, we destroy so much, we waste so much...and when it's all gone, we'll be sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So much we need to learn, but even more we need to act on all we already know...

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have learned so much about the culture of North America from your poetry, Sherry. It is an enlightenment to visit your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Every inch of this earth is alive, and beautiful.
    Every inch of this earth is alive, and suffering.

    Seems like the corner stone of this poem - and your poetry as a whole Sherry - you convey the anguish and the joy of Mother Earth so well..it really does feel like you hear her and see her and tell her story to us xo

    ReplyDelete
  12. This makes me so sad. We are on the cusp of losing something wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Newcome to Poets United......so glad Bjorn introduced me. This is just epic in its reach, memorable in it message, and searing in its imagery. Having hiked to the foot of an Alaskan glacier last year -- witnessing the calving and slow incessant dripping of the glacier into a beautiful but oh so sad stream.......the damage we've done to Mother Earth is felt in its rivulets of shed tears -- upon those rocks that cascade within those glacial streams. Your last lines here, "...The stones, the land, remembers.
    Listen, for all this earth has to teach us
    about being alive." so very powerful.
    A beautiful read this Sunday morn. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is such a stunning poem Sherry I especially adore that last stanza :D

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

    ReplyDelete
  15. Rest and get well Sherry....I keep getting a virus that seems to not want to let go...zaps my energy so I am listening to my body.

    As always you words release a firestorm within me:

    'Mother Wind battering the earth
    with pounding rain,
    a furious housecleaning,
    trying to rid herself of parasites and vermin
    clinging to her skin.'

    There is such a knowing in this piece....one we need to listen to and find a way to heal...to pray and hope we see the white buffalo soon.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is an amazing piece of work and it resonates with me today. The art of listening we all need to open our ears and our hearts to the call of nature.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I hate the way we cut her open like a drugged cesarean section and take out what she would eventually give naturally.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Every inch Sherry and, in your case, every word conjures the feeling here... Great!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is just an absolutely wonderful poem, Sherry. Beautiful, sad, profound, and, at the same time, full of hope. The line that lingers is the vision of trees waving in the wind... beckoning. Great, great job!

    ReplyDelete
  20. We are but spoiled children, refuse to learn....wonderful write!

    ReplyDelete
  21. These are my favorite sections:

    "the eyes of the ancestors,
    stoic, resigned to our unceasing folly"

    "with pounding rain,
    a furious housecleaning"

    "There is a thin keening in the wildwoods"

    "walking ghosts with no eyes"

    "Listen, for all this earth has to teach us
    about being alive."

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love this a legend like poem, and your words 'It will speak to you' about trees flow inside my heart...

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is indeed a lost art, but what wonders await those who learn to listen to "the language of mountains and rivers" :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Had my attention from the picture to the last word of this post. Outstanding piece!
    ZQ

    ReplyDelete
  25. A great inspiration and interpretation, Sherry! Impressive. Walter

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sometimes listening seems like such hard work, but it is always worth it in the end, especially when the speakers are stones. They have such wonder-filled old tales to tell!

    ReplyDelete
  27. You speak to me.

    I hear the stories in the stones.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Beautiful Sherry. Only wish we could be sorry enough to stop what we are doing.

    Elizabeth

    ReplyDelete
  29. Unless something happens, we usually ignore the stories and calling of Mother Earth. No matter how hard the outcome, we all deserve the furious cleaning from her.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Mother Earth had been subjected to all kinds of abuses. If only she could speak and tell of the inconsiderate actions of some. It could help mankind to make amends for a better future. This is beautiful, a thoughtful take Sherry!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete
  31. Beautifully said as always, but I almost couldn't bear to read it! (Which is of course a measure of how well you wrote it.)

    ReplyDelete
  32. "The stones, the land, remembers.
    Listen, for all this earth has to teach us
    about being alive."
    ---Thanks Sherry! Will do!

    ReplyDelete
  33. "Every inch of this earth is alive, and beautiful.", and yet so much of it is being harmed by deforestation and pollution.
    such a heartfelt poem, Sherry.

    and hope you're feeling better.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This is a beautiful ode to nature Sherry ~ Love this part:

    Every inch of this earth is alive, and beautiful.
    Every inch of this earth is alive, and suffering.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is epic - a wonderful piece that pulsates with primordial images and a deep - almost mythic - sense and feeling ... it is as if the earth is speaking to us through you: the chronicler of the story of the land, urging us to listen.

    ReplyDelete

I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!