Monday, January 31, 2011

Wild Women's Voices

[image by Sanura at]

All the Voices

trying to shape who we are:
“children should be seen and not heard”
“who do you think you are?”
“I’ll give you something to cry about”
“do it to prove you love me”
“I want, therefore you must give me....”
“you’re my wife, dammit, and you’ll act like my wife”
“you don’t understand a man’s needs”
“three babies in three years?
That’s what women are for, isn’t it?”
(this from a doctor,
a male, naturally)
and then, the nail in the coffin:
“things were all right
till you started thinking
you were a Person.”

Our inner voices
to be heard
but we were well trained
to shut them out,
not pay attention,
against all reason
convince ourselves
that other peoples’ needs
were more important
took precedence.
Putting oneself on the list?
Wouldn’t that be selfish?

How does one value self
when one has never been valued?

But the writing voice: that voice
they could not silence.
In the scratching of the pen on paper,
the pounding of the typewriter keys,
that Self began to get harder to ignore.

It began to bang up against
the bars of the cage,
rattle the locks,
drag the chains along the floor,
very annoying to a spouse.

It was all over
soon after she discovered
the “click” of The Feminine Mystique,
drew in great gasping breaths
of relief and recognized truth
at the words of Gloria Steinem
and Ms Magazine,
days when “Hit the Road, Jack”
became her anthem.

When she read
the words of Desiderata:
No less than the moon
and the stars,
you have a right to be here,
she wept.
She had not known that.

Midway along
the river of life,
she found
traveling was smoother
when she flowed
with the current,
instead of fighting it.
When the clamor
of voices
so that she could hear,
she realized
that the voice within,
unheeded for years,
had never told her
an untruth.

That voice,
she discovered,
was her deepest wisdom;
it was her
truest friend and,
when a best friend
lovingly tells you
a profound truth,
she learned
it is best to listen.
That voice
that a lifetime
of people
had tried to stifle
was her
highest knowing,
and her most direct
way home.

From the day
she began to listen,
she recognized
that a wise
Wild Woman
lived within,
full of the ocean,
the earth and sky,
with a voice
like the wind.

The Wild Woman
told her
was the
Peaceful Way.
She chose
a wolf-pup
to accompany her
in latter days.

She hears
a song of the sea
inside, feels the
call of the wild,
follows the pull
of the moon
and tides,
keeps the heart
of a child.

She withdrew
from the fray,
she rose,
tattered and sore,
to a tranquil isle:
she will struggle
no more.

To the young ones
who follow,
she’d offer
this bit of truth:
“Listen first to
the Voice Within,
for a happier youth.”

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Day

mist rising off the mountains
lacing through the tall pines,
butter-yellow sun
coming up behind the ancient cedars;
a pale, robin's-egg blue sky,
frost filigree
lining the barn roof,
sleepy Sunday dogs
basking in the morning,
and a new day
has come
to the
peaceful valley.

Mao's Last Dancer

For some months, I have been waiting for Mao's Last Dancer to come out on dvd. Last night I had the pleasure of watching it. It is based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin who, at age eleven, was chosen from his poor Chinese village, to attend the Beijing Academy, where he became a ballet dancer.

Chosen in 1979 to make a cultural exchange, he arrived as a young man in Texas, where he became the principal dancer for the Houston Ballet. He fell in love with a dancer there, married, asked to stay (which was at first refused) and defected to the USA. The film has good acting, FANTASTIC dancing, a good story, and is interspersed with flashbacks to China. The film ends on a high note, when the dancer is allowed to return to China to visit his parents. For anyone who loves dancing, as well as getting a glimpse into lives in other parts of the globe, this is a rich feast of a film.

Li Cunxin picked Chi Cao to depict him - Chi is the son of Li's two former teachers in Beijing.

Li now lives in Australia with his wife and children, and is a principal artist of the Australian Ballet.

This is the best movie I have seen since My Name is Khan.


In My Name is Khan, a Muslim man with Asperger's syndrome, from Mumbai,  marries a Hindu woman in San Francisco. Touched by tragedy after 9/11, he is detained at an airport, suspected as a terrorist, simply because of his ethnicity.

The rest of the film depicts his journey around the United States in his quest to catch up with the American President and tell him "I am not a terrorist." I cried through the last half of this movie. The man's heart is so true and straight-forward, and his message is a powerful one.

I wish every high school student in North America could watch this movie.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Trek Through the Himalayas

[photo by Susan Watt, of Tofino, B.C.]

Remember Chris Lowther, my dreamy-eyed poet friend who lives on a floathouse in Clayoquot Sound? I wrote about her in the fall. She has known and loved Pup since his puppy days and grieved with me at his passing. She came for a visit yesterday, and brought with her a slideshow of amazing photos taken by our friend Susan Watt, also of Tofino, on her trip through Tibet, Nepal and Kashmir.

I sat for a blissful morning, sipping tea and being transported to another time, another land, where perhaps, some other lifetime, I belonged.

I fell in love with this little Tibetan fellow's face, and when Susan offered me my pick of photos, I chose this one. These are the eyes of an Old Soul. I was struck by the scarcity of what the people of that land need to live their lives: it is life stripped down to the essentials. One photo shows a Tibetan kitchen: a two-shelf table with a few aluminum pots, a few aluminum plates. That was it. One woman had a two burner hotplate; she had to connect wires together to ignite it, sparks flying each time. Their stone dwellings perched high atop cliffs, meaning someone had to walk a very long way to  find the day's water and pack it back up the hill.

And, uniformly, on every face, there is a radiance, a deep-welling satisfaction and contentment. Smiling faces, radiating inner joy, faces whose souls have learned what is truly essential in life: the things of the spirit.

Even the sheep in the photos looked radiant. They were smiling, too. Happy to be living in Tibet and Nepal, and not headed for the "factory farms" and cruel slaughterhouses of the West.

[That's Susan in the back, with black shirt and sunglasses.]

Susan is now on a mission. On her travels, she visited an orphanage in Nepal, where she learned that for three thousand North American dollars, its 21 orphans could be put through school for one year, including the cost of uniforms, fees and books. She intends to hold a slide-show and dinner event, to raise funds for this purpose.

I asked her if I might post about it here, as one never knows where or who  these words will reach. At the very least, reading about this is a lift of the heartstrings, a moment of hope, and a reminder to us here in North America, surrounded by and choking in the grip of all of our Stuff, that there are fellow humans in Lhasa, on the cliffsides of Nepal, and all through the Himalayas, who live a stripped-down and scarce material existence, but who are richer in spirit than we can begin to imagine.

And also that one person, seeing a need and addressing it, can make significant changes in this world. Bravo, Susan!!

Anyone wishing to contribute towards the education of these orphans, may contact Susan at


Wolf Calls

[image from]

I hear
the wolf howl
from high
on the mountain.
My hackles
I point my nose
the moon,
and answer
his call.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fire and Ice

The worst fire of all:
the thought
of your vibrant, big,
exuberant, noisy body,
being fed into the flames.

Ice cold
the moment
she handed
you back to me,
to ashes
in your tiny
cardboard box.

dont think
it was
I didnt
love you.

It was because
I needed you
with me,
and there was
no other


[image from]

He burnt down
her store,
her home by the sea,
and destroyed
her life,
and her dream.

Starting over
with nothing,
she rebuilt her life
from scratch.

Wake-Up Call

[image from]

Driving through
the lashing rain,
rounding the curve,
as she felt the car
fly out from
underneath her,
hydroplaning across
the oncoming lane
the embankment,
the last thing
she heard
from the tape deck
was Carolyn Myss's
"Wake-Up Call."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Putting On Her Walking Boots

[image from google:]

There was a free spirit
living inside her
but, raised in small-town
1960's Kelowna,
fed on a diet
of 1950's dreams,
she didnt know
about her
till she clawed
her way out,
some disillusioned
years later.

To the newspaper editor,
the magazine publisher,
the offer of free university,
or training to be
a missionary in Africa,
she said, primly,
"No, thanks,
I just want
to get married
and have babies."
She thought of it
as an escape,
had no idea
she was entering
a cage
from which
her entire psyche
would recoil,
no clue how long
it would take
to tunnel her way out,
no concept how difficult
that excavation
of the self
would be.

It was the culture
of the times;
she lived
just on the cusp
of change.

In the cities,
the times were a-changing,
rebellion and foment
was in the air.
The hippies were
growing their long hair,
burning incense,
playing cool music,
growing beards,
smiling moony smiles.
The Women's Movement
was on the rise.
Another five minutes,
and she would have been
in the thick of it.

But by the time
the beautiful hippies
were grooving
up and down 4th Avenue,
she was pushing
a buggy full of babies
along 3rd,
a parallel universe
just one block down,
trapped in
a  marriage
that so choked
her spirit,
she did not write
one word
for eight long years.

Impaled upon
her marriage,
her spirit was giving
its death rattle
by the time she heard
the "click"
of the Feminine Mystique,
gasped with recognition
and relief
at the words
of Gloria Steinem
and Ms Magazine,
began to see light
through the bars
of her cage.

She epitomized
the silencing
of women's voices
and creativity
when they are
and also
the rising
of one's spirit to
reclaim one's life,
one's voice,
one's art,
when one begins
to apprehend
the cost
is just too high
to be paid.

He sneered
"we were all right
till you started
you were a person",
kicking over a stack
of Ms magazines.
"You were all right"
she replied.
"Yeah. And I could be again
if you'd just keep quiet."

She put on a pair
of metaphorical red boots,
sang "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"
and "Hit the Road, Jack", often,
and robustly.
Soon it was done.

She took her first walk
as a free person
through the fall leaves of
Vancouver's West End.
It was 1972,
and she was
right on time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The whole
has fallen
eerily silent.
No black dog
barking importantly
in the yard.
You left a silence
as vast as Siberia
behind you.

You had
such a large
that your absence
feels as expansive
as a crater
on the moon,
and as lonely.

I've been
looking for you
and couldnt find you.
I've been listening
for your wolf-call
on the air.

The prayer-flags
have been flying
at half-mast
on Plested Road.

only this morning,
I heard you
right beside
my bed,
felt your nose
on the edge
of the mattress,
the way it always did
when I stayed in bed
too long
and you
wanted Out.

It made me cry
with missing you,
but I am grateful
your spirit
has found
its way

The hard work
of living:
I must learn
to walk
with your spirit, now,
the way,
for fourteen years,
you walked
with mine.
So grateful,
I am so grateful,
for your
in my life.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


[image from]

He came to the mouth
of her cave
in the dead of winter,
peering tentatively in
at the warmth
of her 
crackling fire.
She sat still
as a stone
to invite him,
lifted a  bird-wing
towards him,       
shared her meal
with him,
their new
friendship a-borning;
slept and wakened,
finding him 
still there
in the 

they wandered 
forest trails,
sought summer fields
of richly golden grain,
wild beaches
lashed with storm,
sheltered from 
the lashing rain,
hunted under
sunny skies,
loped across
the grassy range,
shared fish,
and rabbits,
birds and berries,
and joyous,
as the seasons

They sat by
the fire
on lonely midnights,
howling at the moon.
But  warm summer
nights pass
and the winter
too soon.

His snout, her hair
turned white
with winter's chill.
His body grew
aged and weak,
as old bodies will.

They came to a fork
in the path
in the
rising dawn.
He stopped,
and turned
for one last look,
then  was gone.
His was the wolf path,
where a human
may not follow.
She took the path
to the right,
her heart
and hollow.

She cried
with the fading
of the night's
last star,
"thank you"
to his fleeting back:
he had guided her
this far.

she can feel
his spirit
on the
rising wind.
Some nights
you can hear
her keening
on the air.
Then soft comes
a faint echo
from deep
in the mountains,
When the moon is right
and the spirits awake,
you can
hear them,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Poet on Poetry

[image from]

In speaking about writing a poem, Mary Oliver, said, "It wants to open itself, like the door of a little temple, so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed, and less yourself than part of everything.

"Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry."

A Word from Annie Dillard

[image from]

Annie Dillard writes, in For the Time Being, "There is no less holiness at this time than there was the day the Red Sea parted, or that day the heavens opened and Ezekiel saw visions of God. There is no less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha's bodhi tree.

In any instant, the sacred may wipe you with its finger, in any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree.

In any instant, you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept slander, failure or the grief of loss, or to endure torture. Purity's time is always now...."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Spirit Too Big to Kill

Ms. Jasmine, lonely without Pup

With thanks to Annell at Somethings I Think About
for the line "Spirit too big to kill",
which she wrote for Pup.

The neighbourhood
has gone eerily silent.
The neighborhood dogs
are spooked,
the neighbors, too.
When I pull
into the driveway,
now -
no   barking -
no big old snout
in the bags,
to see if there's
something there
for you.

The house is empty.
Ms. Jasmine
is sad
and quiet,
while through
the empty rooms
she and I roam,
looking at
your stuffed boars,
your big soft bed of foam,
the space waiting for
your ashes,
when you
come home.

Where are you now?
Where did
your large
and noisy spirit go?
This silence
is one I
simply cant
get used to;
it's too quiet,
and that makes me
miss you so.

You had such a big
and luminescent
It makes
your absence
all the more
I didnt want
to let you go,
my wolf-pup,
and you didnt want
to leave me;
that I know.

You stayed longer
than your body
thought was wise.
But your spirit
kept  light
to the end
within your eyes.

The morning
of the day
you died,
I saw you rolling
like a young pup,
on your back and
wriggling in the snow.
I hoped it meant that
you were getting better.
I wasnt ready
to let you go.

But your hind end has
been giving out
for years.
Every time
that you went down,
you got back up.
Even when it failed,
that night,
still you tried
to rise,
my ever-faithful

You barked to go out,
and then it happened:
your rear was gone.
You needed
to be set free.
The decision
was made,
the moment I had
so dreaded,
had finally
come to be.

When we prepared the car,
you thought
that it meant
Your excitement 
at going 
got you  on your feet.
You barked
the whole way
as you have,
for fourteen years,
day after day.
Who could have thought
how much I'd miss
your barking,
how loud the silence
once you went

This afternoon
the sun beamed
shafts of brightness
all across
your bare, deserted yard.
It is so empty now
without you in it.
Being without you
is so very hard.

There's a full round
yellow moon
atop the cedars,
rising across the
early evening sky.
The kind of moon
that makes
a wolf pup howl.
For so long,
we've walked together,
you and I.

You refused to get out
at the vet's.
I had to drag you.
You didnt want
to leave me
it was clear.
You fought the
for a long time.
I fought my tears,
so you would
feel no fear.

Then finally,
and slowly,
it was over.
You succumbed.
I know your spirit
never will.
You  were yourself,
right to the end,
black wolf who
loved me,
who lived
all his life
with a
too big to kill.

Your empty yard.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wild Water

Today, to distract ourselves from Stuff At Home, Lisa and I ran away to Coombs, where we spent a wonderful covetous half hour, browsing through an import shop full of the most wonderful Tibetan objects. Sigh. This was followed by a huge, decadent ice cream cone at Whiskey Creek (hey, we girls know how to have fun!). Then Lisa turned off at Little Qualicum Falls.

It was so lovely in there - so green, with the sound of the rushing water luring us down to the bridge.

Whenever my heart is heavy, if I go to the sound of rushing water, my cares fall away, soothed by the sound of ocean, or river: water, making its way home along routes unchanged for millenia.

The water was wild today, frothing in wintertime fury. 

We fell silent, listening, both to the water, and our own hearts, as we sorted and questioned recent experiences, placing them in the context of the river, the planet, the universe...........a billion other lives being lived out, all over the planet, in a billion different ways, yet in so many ways each the same,  with its joys and losses, its laughter and its tears.

Life can be likened to this river. We plunge in and get tossed about, and battered, until we learn how to stop fighting the current, to flow with, not against, the water's force. There be messages in each heartbreak, and beginnings in each ending. Life has taught me to listen carefully.......

to the message of the river........

for sometimes, when it feels like
everything is falling apart,
it is just that life is
On the orher side of all of the changes
might be..........
something wonderful.

When I get home these days, it is so strange to have no big black barking dog welcoming me home, running across the yard barking,  then running up onto the porch to push his snout into my bag, to see if there's anything for him. The neighbourhood is so eerily silent. And our house is too quiet and empty now. Jas is lonely. When I go out, she has no partner here, no one to keep her safe.

It is  worst when I wake up for, at first, I dont remember. And then I do.

I have avoided the vet today. But tomorrow I must stop by and settle up.
And see when I can bring my boy's ashes home.

It is a loss. But it is a loss after fourteen years of love, joy, laughter, companionship and connection. My tears are a small price to pay for the gift of having had  that wonderful creature in my life.

Good Grief

Just a question this morning. I saw the above photo posted at this morning. A line of "angels" protecting the funeral of the youngest victim of the Arizona shooting, nine year old Christina Green.

I am not following the news closely, and just know what I read on Allie's site. Apparently the Westboro Church plans to protest outside the funeral. She reports this line of angels will protect the funeral, separating the expected protestors from the mourners.

This is in response to a hate-filled press release from the Westboro Baptist Church, whose inflammatory statements have upset people far and wide. The press release says, in part , that the shootings "are part of a divine plan. Thank God for the shooter", and far more sickening statements.

A law was actually passed to protect the funeral. The wall of angels and local citizens plan to form a protective wall to keep this ugliness from disturbing those in mourning.

My question? What kind of world do we have, when mourners must be protected from such inflammatory behavior in a time of grieving? And how on earth can people spout such gibberish, in the name of God and religion, and believe they are in the right?

The expression "good grief" came to mind, and I looked more closely at it. Good grief is grief that cleanses and helps heal..............hatred, bigotry, inflammatory statements, have no part in it.

Bless the angels and the citizens of Arizona, who will stand for love and decency and the rights of grieving people to proceed into the funeral of an innocent nine year old girl, untouched by such a display of mental and moral aberration.