Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Deep Time


Tonquin forest


Tonquin Guardian



His perch more precarious
with each year


In old age I am living in deep time,
unable to pick up a rock without thinking about
the many aeons it has seen; its history
held wordless and yet present in my hand.

I have lived many lives,
the poet said, and so have I,
each one lasting about a decade,
give or take, me emerging, heart-scalded
but wiser, at the end, ready to plunge into
the next adventure, the next decade
of becoming.

Deep time is speeding up now,
as we struggle to awaken to all the species
who are flickering and dying, fail to grasp
the enormity of the melting taiga,
the tilting of the earth on its axis
at the poles, sorrow on the faces
of the indigenous people of the north,
who say the sun has moved its position
on the horizon.

In deep time, I fear it is too late for hope,
yet still I try. I speak to Tofino Council
about the folly of clearcutting the village's
only old growth forest to make way
for housing, for humans, for us,
explaining the connection between
the trees breathing in and out,
as our own chests rise and fall.
It should be so simple
to understand. But dollar signs
and political pressure flickers
in their eyes. The wild things
will lose another home.

Sigh. In old age, I am living in
deep time, knowing too much to
ever take for granted any single thing;
resigned, as earth cries out 
in her many voices, wondering
why so few of us can hear.


The line "I have lived many lives" is from the line "I had many lives" in "Formaggio" by Louise Gluck. For Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Deep Time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

HERON

 


The spruce that was your home
got cleared to make way for
a larger heli-pad,
replacing the leafy grove
with a concrete moonscape.
Now I watch you fly over Sobo's,
looking like a skinny matron
with a pocketbook tucked under your wing.

You perch, first here, then there,
trying out new hemlock and cedar spires,
surveying new vistas,
as unsettled as I am,
making yet another move
in my old age.

The trees are coming down
in Clayoquot Sound,
in the UNESCO biosphere reserve
where one would think
they'd be the most protected.

"Progress!" the voices cry.
"Development! You can't stop it."

But we can try.

These tree beings are our lungs,
we plead, we sigh. The planet is 
melting; it is burning.
As entangled as you
in the fragility and unraveling
of everything I love
am I.

for Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Entanglement - with other species, with environmental collapse, with the natural world.




Monday, January 18, 2021

Love Beyond Death

 


The biggest sign
that love transcends death
was feeling your snout on the edge of my bed,
the morning after you died,
the way you woke me every morning of your life.
You gave a soft "whuff",
pressed your nose down hard,
right about the time your big noisy body
was being fed into the flames.
(It still kills me, you burning.
But there was no other way
this nomadic, homeless person
could keep you with me, except in the urn,
which goes with me everywhere,
and will go into my coffin when I am gone.)

I didn't open my eyes. I was just waking,
unwillingly,
into the rest of my life without you,
and I thought you were Gone.

I still hear that "whuff", 
feel the weight of your snout on
the edge of my bed,
that final morning
when you came to tell me
goodbye.

Pup, my wild wolf, the love of my life,  left this world January 15, 2011. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

BEFORE

 


At the beginning, there was the lakeshore
and the big, blue hills, and I asked for
weiners and beans every day for lunch,
until my sister was born and she wanted
chicken noodle soup, so then we ate
chicken noodle soup.

Before life got dark, there was laughter,
sunshine, a long line of laundry
on the clothesline. My parents
had a big garden; my mom preserved things.
My dad made wine, a pillowcase of grapes
hanging on the doorknob, juice dripping
into the bucket below.

This was before my grandparents knew
that I was alive, before dad's divorce
so they could get married, before
my grandparents came to meet me
and loved the pretty town full of orchards
so much they moved there; before the
glamorous aunts and uncles all died,
their faces on grainy old film emerging
from my grandma's cottage smiling,
impossibly beautiful.
Only one of them now still alive.

Before the drinking and the violence
got so bad that I emerged shellshocked,
child of trauma, numb, voiceless,
finding safety in my grandma's house
on Christleton Avenue, where she
taught me to live, and that life could
be peaceful, serene, so quiet
you could hear the old metal clock
on the kitchen windowsill
tick-tocking in every room.

"I  never knew survival was like that.
You look back and beg for it again,
the hazardous bliss before you know
what you would miss."


for Wild Writing by Laurie Wagner. Inspired by "Before", by Ada Limon. The italicized lines are hers.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

This Is What Life Does

 



This is what life does:
It starts off ordinary, a cup of tea
in the morning, a slice of toast,
feeding the birds, turning on the news.
And then it tosses in an armed insurrection
during a pandemic where it turns out
we don't have enough serum after all.

Sigh. Weariness descends
like a heavy grey cloud.

I watch a new President's face grow gaunt
and worried overnight. I hear welcome words
of reason, after four years of falsehoods and lies.

Did you know that starfish have water,
not blood, in their veins? 
(I pause to ponder what runs
in the veins of domestic terrorists.)
Sea stars have eyes on the ends of their arms.
Is this a message?
If we did, too, would we see the suffering
around us more clearly,
and wrap our arms around those
who need comfort and help,
instead of looking away?

None of what is going on
makes any sense.
Or maybe this is the transformation
of consciousness we have
so long been awaiting,
disguised as insurrection which transfixes
our minds and hearts, so that we say
as one loud human body:
This is Enough! and demand
a new and better world.

We live in faltering hope,
like starfish, who can grow a new leg
when they lose one, and who have
eyes on the end of their arms.


Day Three of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner
Inspired by Starfish by Eleanor Lerman


Friday, January 15, 2021

IN THE BRACKEN

 

If ever you would
speak with any tree,
come walking in the forest
here with me.
I'll show you the wild mushroom
and the root,
but where the ancients gather,
set no boot.

If you would speak
with nature spirits wild,
you must maintain the heartbeat
of a child,
learn riversong and
mountain chasm deep.
You must commune with angels
in your sleep.

As you step lightly on
the pungent moss,
and feel the leaves
the winter wind doth toss,
let your spirit fly away
among the trees.
It will return
upon the morrow's
breeze.

I go into the forest
dark and deep,
every night after
I fall asleep,
become a woodland
guardian, reborn
I do not want to leave
when it is morn.

Last night my spirit
fought as a black wolf,
against four brown wolves
on the forest floor,
This told me
that a battle lies before,
my spirit having
recognized
its door.

Come with me.
I will show you secret groves,
moss-hung and ancient
in this stand of pine.
Deep in the bracken,
where the hoarfrost glows,
the Old Ones are singing Home
this heart of mine.


One from 2012, shared with earthweal's open link

Thursday, January 14, 2021

On Puppies and Their People

 

facebook image
no copyright infringement intended

Today's sermon is a blue-eyed wolf dog
who needs to run, but is never let off his leash
because his owner has not trained him,
and is afraid he won't come back;
I long to snap the chain and let his long legs lope
along the shore, and through the forest. 
Wild things need to run.

Today's sermon is a confused black puppy,
eight weeks old, who sits down because 
his owner is training him too much
and he doesn't know what he is supposed to do.
"No touch, no eye contact," the fool man says.
"It teaches the puppy to be calm."
(It teaches the puppy to be depressed,
quelling that puppy joy that
being a puppy is all about.
I want to abduct the puppy.)

Today's sermon is puppies found abandoned
in dumps, in frozen wastelands, inside tires
and dumpsters; it is the one survivor puppy
found with his litter frozen dead beside him.
Today's sermon is humans who lack humanity,
who think animals don't matter.

Today's sermon is rescued dogs
who approach, with fear and trembling,
but who learn, over time, 
that humans can also be kind.

Today's sermon is well-loved dogs
with happy grins, loping along the shore,
and chasing each other in joyous circles.
In a perfect world, every dog
would have a life like that.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole,
the poet says.
I'm old. I know some things.
I know what makes children and animals
feel safe and happy.
My penance for living this long
is to watch the heedless young
who think they know more than they know:
yet don't understand how fragile
small and helpless beings are.
I watch them learning everything
it took me so long to learn,
watch them breaking hearts,
including their own.

I'm dragging grace around
like a rusty wagon,
pretending it's whole.
My heart has dents and bruises
on it; such grace as can be found
hasn't got a lot to say.
What good does all this Knowing do,
when only old people, babies and dogs
can hear its sorrowful song?

Inspired by "Today's Sermon" by Cheryl Dumesnil, and Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. The italicized words are Cheryl Dumesnil's.