Saturday, December 4, 2021

With Awakened Eyes

 


You were
my guardian,
my soulmate,
my most hilarious companion,
my deepest joy,
and, when you died,
my everlasting sorrow.

What gifts a lifetime brings!
A wild wolf puppy,
who travelled the forest trail
to find me.

You were
all I needed for joy.
You are
all that I know
of heartbreak.

Because of you,
I see animals
with awakened eyes.
Because of you,
I can hear
the suffering
in their helpless cries.


for Shay at The Sunday Muse. I could never resist a photo prompt with a wolf in it. LOL. 

Right now, B.C. is digging out after three "atmospheric rivers" which flooded large areas of the province, destroying major highways and bridges, and flooding several towns where people were evacuated and lost their homes. The worst hit is a large agricultural area, where uncounted thousands of animals, domestic, agricultural and wild, drowned, the ones trapped in factory "farms" dying deaths of unimaginable terror. So while this poem started out to be about Pup, it is because of him that my heart breaks with every animal death, all these years since 2011. I didnt know I had so many tears in me. But animal lives are hard because of humans, so there is a lot of scope for grieving.


Friday, December 3, 2021

To the Drowned Cows of the Flood Plains

 


In the long, low sheds where you have
spent your lives in captivity,
side by side in stanchions,
 unable to move about,
no one wants to think about
your terror 
when the floodwaters came in.

But I go there; hear you bellowing,
hooves flailing as you try to flee, and can't,
see your desperate eyes as the water rises
up your body, then covers your nose,
watch you go still.
I think of the baby calves,
their panic.

So painful
to think of your last minutes.
So unnatural, your lives,
attached to machines,
or sent to slaughter,
fully aware you were being herded
to your death.

Your bloated bodies
will be revealed
when the waters recede.
If you can live and die it,
I can bear witness,
send our collective
sorrow, grief and guilt
across the flooded
land.

You lived and died
because of us.
When will we listen
well enough to hear
your anguished cries?



Mission City Record
Some calves were rescued
by any means possible.


Saanich News
(Volunteers are drying off the calves.)


for earthweal's open link. I attempted a Verse Letter to the cattle drowned in the Sumass Prairie floods in B.C. in November 2021, along with untold thousands of other animal deaths, both domestic and wild.



Wednesday, December 1, 2021

One More Day of Being

 


It is a misty first of December. The storm
has stopped, for now, and we catch our breath.
I gobble at a raven perched on a stop sign.
Where did she huddle, when the heavens opened?

Grey sky hanging low, grey harbour,
villagers all in rain gear, smiling hardily.
"Crazy weather!" we agree. "But nice today!"

At the clinic, a white woolly dog 
who knows me as the Treat Lady,
gives a sharp bark from behind the counter.
When I go into the office, he follows me
and refuses to leave till he gets his treat.
Village dogs make my day.

Back home, in my cozy rooms,
with my Christmas lights on,
I allow myself to settle in
to bad-weather lethargy,
though there is so much
I could or should be doing.

How long do any of us really have?
the poet asked, so I allow myself
one more day of enjoying being alive,
in my cute little place, among my wolves
and books and movies - one more day
of Being. The Doing will have to wait.

Inspired by Self-Compassion by James Crews at Wild Writing.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Dispatches From the Edge

 

The Sumass Prairie Flood
Abbotsford, B.C.

Reuters image

Ministry of Transportation images


Getty images


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:
(c/c B.C. Premier John Horgan)

Welcome to the climate crisis. Too bad we missed our emissions targets for 2020. Oops. I hate to burst your bubble of denial, but setting emission reduction targets of 2050 is ludicrous. By 2050, if human life survives, perpetual heat domes will be baking all life for months at a time.

Tzeporah* is telling it true: the only way forward is the way you do not want to travel, capping fossil fuel use and scaling the industry down by mid-century. Stop with the pipelines. Stop clearcutting the few remaining old growth forests we have left. The capitalism extraction formula makes a few very rich, but it is costing the rest of us dearly, and will have  an even more devastating impact on our grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's lives, along with all non-human lives.

We just watched large portions of our province disappear underwater, people and animals suffering and dying, towns emptied, livelihoods wiped out overnight. I used to feel frustrated when government said it was too expensive to address climate change.  The price tag for not addressing it will be even higher. And the trouble is, we will be so busy reacting to crises, it will be impossible, now, to gain the upper hand enough to slow the pace of climate breakdown.

A series of storms are lined up off the coast; the second  is battering us now. It is long past time to stop making decisions based on economics, and to start making them in terms of survival on this planet. You were not elected to make life great for corporations; you were elected to serve the people and steward resources carefully for future generations.

I can't tell you how your smiling, smooth, empty words, words, words annoys me, along with your lack of action.

Signed,
A Raging Granny

for my challenge at earthweal: to write Verse Letters: a form of address like a dramatic monologue. As I watch Politico-Speak on the news, and those smug, smiling, over-privileged faces, while so many are suffering, it helps to send off a verbal slap or two. *Tzeporah Berman is a lifelong activist who speaks to government and industry about the accelerating climate crisis. 

The third atmospheric river system is set to hit tomorrow. The long tin buildings that house livestock on factory "farms" are full of drowned cattle. Three towns have lost a large percentage of their housing. Thousands are displaced with no where to go; they have lost everything. When climate refugees are within 100 miles, the climate crisis gets very real indeed. I can hardly bear to think of how many domestic and wild animal deaths there have been. I write from the edge of the West Coast, and the edge of hope.


Saturday, November 27, 2021

WHEN LIFE IS A RAGING RIVER

 

The Sumas Prairie Flood

Getty images

Reuters image


Ministry of Transporation images

CBC photo


This time the river comes from the sky,
an atmospheric river that floods vast areas.
Major highways and bridges collapse.
In long tin barns, thousands of animals drown.
Humans are displaced with no where to go;
climate refugees are now in our back yard,
and tomorrow it could be us.

Skies are dark; the rain pounds down,
relentless, a second storm, a third.
The fourth will be the biggest yet,
they tell us nervously. "Have essentials
packed and ready to go." But go where?
I live on a narrow peninsula with one road out.
Sitting in backed up cars beside a surging sea
feels less safe than staying home, and what does
one take, when one has only two hands,
one grab and go bag, five minutes?
Let it all go, I think, as I have let it all go
so many times before.

In times like these, the givers appear:
driving their boats down what once were streets,
rescuing people and pets; feeding the displaced
in community halls, making coffee, sandwiches,
soup, handing out trays with a smile:
"Have this; it will warm you."

They are sandbagging the dike, in fear
that it will break again in the next storm,
and they will be back where they started.
They are herding terrified cows in water
up to their necks; they are gathering
what animals they can into whatever shelter
they can find. They are on the news,
choked up, but brave, saying, "We won't give up.
Come spring, we'll plant again."
Yet how rebuild in a floodplain, when 
it is certain more floods will come?

"One river gives its journey to the next"
the poet said, "when giving is all we have.
You gave me what you didn't have;
I gave you what I had to give.
Together, we made something greater."

From When Giving Is All We Have by Alberto Rios; Wild Writing. Italicized lines are the poet's.



A series of atmospheric rivers is flooding much of British Columbia, in a scope undreamed of by climate change deniers, but a clue to those of us who understand the climate crisis that we dont have ten or fifteen more years "to turn things around." Climate breakdown is happening now; it is accelerating. We discover how helpless humans are when nature responds to the distress we have caused her. The scope of destruction is greater than can be fully comprehended. There have been some human deaths and uncounted thousands of domestic and wild animal deaths. Livestock trapped in the agriculture industry buildings drowned captive; disposing of the bodies will be an ordeal in itself. Humans are as busy as ants trying to shore up infrastructure against the endless rain. I have no idea what will remain after the fourth and biggest storm early next week. The best of human nature comes out at such times. We  are grateful for the many hands reaching out in compassion to provide assistance. There is no "other" in a crisis, only givers, and helpers. Only humans, struggling together against forces so mighty they humble us. 

shared with earthweal, where we seem to be chronicling the apocalypse, sooner than we expected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

In Memory, I Return

 


Kelowna, B.C.

In memory, I return to the bare brown hills
of my childhood summers,
that turned blue in winter snows.
Again and again, my heart goes back
to the little cottage on Christleton Street,
to the glamorous aunts and uncles
coming smiling out onto the porch in the video
now gone grainy after so many decades.

Sometimes now, on early summer mornings
at the farm, I smell lake-scent, bullrushes,
weeping willow and Ponderosa pine, and
I am back again, eleven years old,
freckle-faced, hair in a pony tail,
in pedal pushers and t-shirt,
biking the hot and dusty streets.

"There are landscapes one has lost":
1260 Ethel, when my children were
young, leggy and laughing, before life
brought us all so many tears.

My trailer in Tofino, the realization
of my dream, eagles wind-surfing overhead,
sunrise a fiery orange over the inlet,
joy and contentment at finding home
in the place of my dreams.

My last little home, a smaller trailer
in the country, where Pup reigned supreme,
his elderly paws padding beside me
in the darkness before dawn, returning 
to our little home warm with golden light,
my heart brimming with gratitude
for the peacefulness
of that little home we'd made.

There is no going back. There is only
remembering: I recall the pain of loss,
the longing, when I left this beloved landscape
for the valley. Seventeen years of yearning,
before my joyous return.

One can never own a place. One can 
only love it, and protect it, immerse oneself
in the beloved landscape with joy.
Remembering the past yet 
fully present in the Now,
our hearts are large enough to carry
the full mix of memory and loss,
sorrow and gratitude that fills us
when, in memory, we return
to all the places we have loved,
that made us who we are.


Inspired by Places To Return by Dana Gioia at Wild Writing. The italicized line is hers.

Monday, November 22, 2021

In Praise of Clayoquot Sound


Warren Rudd photo


My life has been a pilgrimage through hallowed ground.
My lover, Clayoquot Sound, her siren song
                 the ocean's roar,
I live enraptured by the beauty of this glorious
                 place I've found,
my heart exulting in her forest and along
                 her golden shore.

My lover, Clayoquot Sound, her siren song
                 the ocean's roar,
like a murrelet, along her ley lines I was drawn.
My heart exulting in her forest and along
                her golden shore,
I will give praise until the breath of life is gone.

Like a murrelet, along her ley lines I was drawn,
beauty like a banquet spread before
               my spellbound eyes.
I will give praise until the breath of life is gone,
blessing the All That Is for silver sea
               and cloud-kissed skies.

Beauty like a banquet spread before
               my spellbound eyes,
I live enraptured by the beauty of this
              glorious place I've found.
Praising the All That Is for silver sea
              and cloud-kissed skies, and that
my life has been a pilgrimage through hallowed ground.



    
                        

HYMN OF PRAISE

Wind whispers
through the canopy
like lake ripples
through the trees

Small leaves spiral
thick as raindrops,
pixies dancing
on the breeze

Sunlight consecrating trees -
almost I hear an organ sound:
I, pilgrim and acolyte,
the golden forest
hallowed ground

Birch bark like ancient manuscript
writ by a gnarled and pointy hand
tells tales of olden times long-gone,
bygone days upon the land

Once again, the breeze-song swells,
upon the wind a hymn of praise:
to these blessed simple days,
these days we have,
a hymn of praise.


***

for Brendan at earthweal where we are giving praise  for nature's beauty. The second small hymn was written some years ago, when words were flowing more easily than they do now.