Friday, September 21, 2018

BLACKBIRD


Softly sighs the willow
at the lakeshore
where once I walked with you
so long ago.
You told me then
it once had been
a riverbed;
so many truths
I'd not yet
come to know.

Now desert blooms
between your heart
and mine,
in reverie,
through all the years
of time.
We said goodbye
and left our song
unsung.
Sweet ache,
remembering
when our hearts
were young. 


Sigh. Another one for Shay. So much saudade. Gah! This was the other of my two loves. He was a beauty, with a blackbird heart.  But Pup was my soulmate. He stayed. Also sharing it with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.





SAUDADE



The withering leaves of autumn
are releasing, one by one
- fearful of falling,
but having no choice
as stems weaken and let go.
The Westerly puffs his cheeks,
scattering stratocumulus
across Father Sky.

Those days,
I walked with you,
along the shore,
exulting,
life more perfect then
than I had ever dreamed.

You took exultation with you
when you left.
What remains is
underlying sorrow,
playing counterpoint
to golden mellow hours,
like a slow, sweet saxaphone
playing a serenade of love
on a late-summer September afternoon.

For Shay's prompt at Real Toads - to choose one of the words. SAUDADE jumped out at me, the pervasive longing for one who is gone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Clueless

The clues are everywhere,
but the leaders have thrown out
all the magnifying glasses,
and are directing global traffic
with closed eyes.

The multinationals
dump the evidence
of their transgressions
into the sea.

Humanity suffers
the repercussions.
The billionaires gloat,
blaming the poor
for their resulting misfortune.

For Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: evidence or clues.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

I RESIST!


The Carolinas NBC photo



I resist the fake truths,
the crudeness, the ugliness,
the
 
divisive rhetoric.
I know we can do
so much better than this.
North America is full
of big-hearted people.

There is more light
than dark in this world.
It's just that darkness
has the upper hand right now.


I resist a government
who rips children
from their parents,
locks them in cages,
(for $775 per child per day),
then loses track of where they are.

I resist believing
people would consider
voting them in again.

I resist believing
that the climate deniers will win,
that somehow, globally,
our leaders – and ourselves -
will not wake up and
begin to do the hard work
of assisting Mother Earth
to regain her balance.

I resist the likelihood
that species after species
will go extinct on our watch,
that our seventh generation of children
will never see
a forest, a bear, a whale;
that for them water will be
as expensive as oil is now,
and their wars will be fought
over water.

I refuse to believe
disaster upon disaster
will wipe us all out
because Greed and Corruption won
and good people
allowed it.

I can live in this mess
just a little while longer,
waiting for the world
to wake up and get real.
I resist the despair
that edges closer
with every newscast.

Just barely.


for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: Resistance. If ever there was a time, it is now.




Saturday, September 15, 2018

BUDDHA SMILE MOON

[I used my zoom. Wow!]


Fat and round and placid
as bellies after harvest,
a smile that harbors secrets
you will never tell,
purveyor of myth,
portal of mystery,
you sail across my evening sky
serene as a ghost ship
easing into port.

Buddha Smile Moon.



One from 2013. I picked one that is easy to read, and positive, as there is so much discouraging news going on. Hope you are all enjoying a lovely weekend, and are safe from storms. Sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Sunset at Wickaninnish


As I sat on a log,
those years ago,
wondering if you loved me,
pink clouds,
puffy and portentous,
crept across 
my evening sky.
I thought this must be what
the floor of heaven 
looks like.

And now you are on
the other side
of those clouds.
You did love me,
just not in the way
I hoped for.
We stalked sunsets together,
shared songs and laughter,
supported each other
for 38 years.
A friendship like that
never knows
a sunset.




for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: Sunset. I live in the land of beautiful sunsets!

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Beautiful Gift


On Friday afternoon, in the first downpour of rain in months, we gathered in the small park overlooking the harbour and were privileged to watch the Tla-o-qui-aht men raise Tofino's very first totem pole. This pole was carved and gifted to the village by local Nuu chah nulth carver Joe David, to honour the ha'wiih (the hereditary Chiefs) of this Haahoulthee (territory).

What an amazing gift. Such a beautiful presence, the Thunderbird on top protecting the Chiefs. The small child on the bottom honours Joe David's granddaughter, and all of the children.

In the evening, there was a great feast, to celebrate the occasion, and the Chiefs, the Nuu chah nulth and the villagers came together and shared food and friendship.

I will visit this pole often. I will stand in deep respect, and listen to what it has to tell me about the beauty of people, and how we are meant to live together in harmony and respect.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Starfire When We Pass



Step into the circle, sister mine,
and feel our bond
through all the years of time
that brought us through
times beautiful and dire,
to this moment when
we step into
blue fire.

I lived a love
that became mine alone.
He knew not how to
for his past atone,
returned the gift,
and went on on his own,
so I carried it
through all the years:
a poem.

In the circle,
we return where we belong,
where all the loves we lost
are worth the cost.
We are finite.
We are also infinite,
each one note
in the universal song.
Our lives create
sweet memories
that will last.
As the veil lifts,
we step through
the looking-glass.
We transform into starfire
when we pass.


Hmmm.......not sure if this is what Toni is looking for. Her prompt at Real Toads is about the Void, the circle, and one, two and three-dimensional states. I thought my one-sided love might be one- dimensional, since it became mine alone. And throwing infinity into the poem seemed like a good idea. Smiles.


WOLFSONG




follow a raven
and find a wolf
hear her gobble-cry,
his soft whuff

up on the ridge
where wild grasses grow
they tarry to listen
while the west wind blows

the wolf sings out
when the full moon beams
hear his howl
threading through your dreams

out on the desert
before the dawn
you can look for his tracks
but he'll be gone

at the end of the trail
near the Joshua Tree
a big black wolf
waits for only me




One from 2012, my friends, to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rise for Mother Earth




Last night, I headed to our small theatre (72 seats!) to listen to presenters talking about climate change, an evening titled Rise for Climate: Realities and SolutionsNeedless to say everyone's concern is the rapid pace of climate change. But each speaker had stories of success in their efforts to help Mother Earth.

The evening was hosted by Jeh Custerra, campaigner for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound. Thanks so much, Jeh, for bringing us this hopeful and affirming evening. And thank you to the sponsors, the Friends, the Clayoquot Salmon Festival and 350.org.

The film crew of Directly Affected was filming the event and we were told we, as audience, will be part of their upcoming film.  Directly Affected  is about the effects of climate change – and who, on this planet, is not now or will not in the near future be impacted?

Nuu chah nulth carver Joe Martin and his daughter Gisele sang a paddling song.

It is always wonderful when like-minded people come together and share wisdom. Local Nuu chah nulth carver Joe David spoke about indigenous ways and laws; he told how his ancestors, going back to pre-contact, held such wisdom. He sang a welcoming song and told us about a song that one of his forebears was given – in the forest, by a white wolf.

I was enchanted. (White wolves wander often through my dreams.)




Gisele Martin, Nuu chah nulth language activist, artist and educator, explained that, in the Nuu chah nulth language, there is no word for wilderness. The closest word that comes to it is “Home”.


The oil sands  - northern Alberta
Devastation as far as the eye can see -
even in a plane.


Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree nation, (David Suzuki Foundation Fellow/Lubicon Solar), told how the tar sands are devastating areas as huge as Washington in northern Alberta, and how the impact affects the indigenous people who live near there. She said that her community only got running water five years ago! 



In response to the land around them being destroyed, her people erected solar installations to provide clean energy. She also talked about the tiny houses that are being erected along the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline by indigenous people.



Clarissa Antone, of the Squamish Nation, the woman who tended the fire on Burnaby Mountain outside the gates of Kinder Morgan, to protect Mother Earth from the pipeline, spoke from the heart about how Mother Earth is dying and how much this planet needs us. Her brother Mike Anton talked about the totem pole he carved and cemented into the ground near the gates of the Kinder Morgan site on Burnaby Mountain, where the Antons and others have been camped, not as protestors, Mike told us, but as protectors.

Jason Sam, Pacific Rim Chair of Surfrider, spoke of Surfrider's massive efforts to clean beaches, gathering and hauling out for recycling what they find, (TONS of refuse that wash up on the shores), with the aim of zero waste management. They worked hard with local businesses to reduce the use of plastic. Our local CoOps don’t use plastic bags any more, and businesses have stopped using plastic straws. This may sound small, he pointed out, but with a million tourists passing through our village, it amounts to a lot of plastic waste.

So there were lots of positives, along with the awareness that we are running out of time to save salmon, whales…….and ourselves.

On Friday afternoon a totem pole carved by Joe David in honour of the hereditary chiefs of this hahoulthee (territory), which is being gifted to the District of Tofino, will be erected at the small park overlooking the harbour. It is a historical moment and I will be there.

It is events like this, as much as the beauty of the place, that make me so fulfilled living here. People here are conscious, aware, informed, and very willing to do what they can to protect the planet.

Walking home, through the darkened village, I was heartened that so many are doing so much in the places where they are.



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Sometimes a Smile



Sometimes
all we have to give
is a friendly smile
and a hello.

In the heart of the discouraged,
the depressed,
the hopeless,
the downtrodden,
sometimes a smile
that lifts the heart
for a moment
and says "I see you"
is enough.


for Susan's prompt at Midweek Motif: Charity / Giving

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

WALKING ON THE WINDS OF MORNING

Beautiful photo made for me by


Traveler walks
on the winds of morning,
gentled by the soft mist,
attuned to the music
of the spheres.

Tiny birds alight
on her shoulders,
then lift off, twittering,
to follow her passage,
branch to branch,
through the sleepy forest.

She is Sky-Woman.
Though her feet are planted
on the earth,
her eyes never leave
the sky.

There are footsteps
softly padding along
behind her.
She does not turn
to see who comes.
She knows.

He is invisible,
but she knows those perked ears,
that arching tail,
that long black snout.

Walking on 
the winds of the morning,
their two spirits touch
through the veil of mist.
Their two hearts
are never
apart.


One from 2011, my friends, which I reposted last year, but which I felt like revisiting today, and sharing with the Tuesday Platform at Real Toads.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fibonacci


Edward Weston (1927)
Fair Use

you
are
light/dark
beautiful
hide from predators
I borrow your innate wisdom

I borrow your innate wisdom
hide from predators
my spirit
light / dark
like
you


for Kerry's Camera Flash prompt at Real Toads: a Fibonacci

I learned that the chambered nautilus is  light on the bottom, dark on the top, to hide from predators. Seen from above, it blends with the dark sea; seen from below, it blends with light from above. Cool.

INGWAVUMA: Lion King


INGWAVUMA~The Lion King


The White Lions of Timbavati
are wandering through my dreams.
Enlightenment bearers,
beings as old as time's moonbeams,
born under an ancient star that fell to earth,
they carry a choice for humankind:
eternal darkness or rebirth.

The shaman says:
"At the end of the world, a white lion
will roar for the last time.
The sun will disappear forever from the sky.
If white lions vanish from the land,
we all will cease to be,"
too late, by then, to start to wonder why.

Ingwavuma,
Sun God, captive,
backed against the rock,
trapped, he turned and stared 
his hunters down.
He offered humankind a choice:
the Light, or stay forever in the dark,
our fate determined by the bullets' arc.

He walked towards them proudly, unafraid.
They chose, for they had paid;
they raised their guns.
He walked to meet his fate, his eyes old fire,
and, as he fell, his last roar dimmed the sun.

Ingwavuma died aligned with his heart star,
in the Leo constellation from which he came,
marking the proud death of a Lion King -
(they tell me Ingwavuma was his name.)
The human psyche will forever
bear the scar.

Their shots rang out.
Ingwavuma, spirit undefeated, fell.
The hunters chose our fate.
There is little more to tell.







This story is told in The Mystery of the White Lions, Children of the Sun God, by Linda Tucker, who is in love with the white lions. She formed the Global White Lion Protection Trust, and protects the lions she has been able to rescue in a wild sanctuary in their ancestral home of Timbavati, in an effort to keep them from being hunted to extinction. There they roam free, hunt and raise their cubs wild, but in protected territory.

The only other known white lions are kept in captivity, some in a compound in the USA, the others in a compound in Africa for Great White Hunters to shoot, in an enclosure where there is no escape, for a fee of $25,000, and a piece of their souls.

The courageous Ingwavuma, whom Linda knew and loved, was not himself a white lion but was believed to carry the gene, so he would have sired white lion cubs. He was cornered in a "hunting" enclosure. When he saw there was no escape, he did not cower. He met his fate bravely and, thereby, those hunters perhaps cursed mankind to eternal darkness. Certainly their hearts were dark.

Shaman Credo Mutwa told Linda that, long ago, a star fell to earth, after which all animals in the area where it fell bore white offspring, the few remaining white lions descending from that time. The shaman says the white lions, who have blue eyes, guard a secret that can save humankind: to turn towards enlightenment, or remain forever in darkness. He says when the last white lion is gone, the sun will disappear. It is, perhaps, the most fascinating and stirring book I have ever read.

shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United. I have shared this before, but felt like posting it again today, with so many ecosystems disintegrating. It seems timely. The trump nightmare invaded my dream last night. I was saying: "I can't do it. Don't make me. Make him stop." LOL. 


Friday, August 31, 2018

GOING, GOING, GONE


Modoc the Elephant
source



The animals, all beautiful and wild,
that I have loved so, 
ever since I was a child,
are crying their distress,
as they flee their burning nests,
and the habitat we have gravely
defiled.

Mother orca sadly grieves 
her deceased calf;
over-fishing has now
cut her food by half.                                          
Turtles wash up on the shore;
soon we won’t see them any more.
And so I weep and ache 
on their behalf.

It is only us they place 
their hopes upon.
May we be the helpers 
that they can count on.
Let's all raise our voices high,
so we don’t have to 
say goodbye.

But hurry! They are
going, going…..gone.


For Karin’s prompt at Real Toads: Going, going, gone. Sigh. 



Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What If....?




What if……
Al Gore had been elected, back when,
and had legislated standards
to address climate change,
when there was still time
to reduce our emissions,
slow the heating and the melting,
…….......?

What if…….
a giant cloud in the sky
suddenly turned into letters
that said:
“To save this world,
you must do
this
  and this
    and this………….”
like the wildfires
and storms and floods,
wild animals and bees
and birds and fish
are saying now........

Would we do it?
Or continue happily
ignoring
that we are
sitting in a pot
whose water
is rapidly coming
to a boil?


***     ***     ***

What if………
years ago,
I had stayed with him
and ridden out the two years
till all of our acting-out teenagers
had left home…..?

What if Monday’s scare
was the bell tolling
“not much time,
    not much time,
       not much time?”

What if
you gave it
everything you had,
all your life,
and no one noticed?


for Susan's big "What If" at Midweek Motif, which made me ponder some burning questions. Don't worry. I'm okay. Just barely. Cackle.



Monday, August 27, 2018

WEEP WITH THE ROHINGYA



Your pain is my pain
a sisterhood longing for
a world of justice


Such desperate hunger
one small bag is not enough
to keep hope alive



When I carry my bag
of groceries home today
I will remember you


Basic human need
shelter for our family
forever denied


Death by sea is risked
when death on land is certain
Where is our safe place?


The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group living in the Buddhist country Myanmar (formerly Burma). They are denied citizenship, live in camps, and are not allowed to leave. The Human Rights Watch reports ethnic cleansing is happening there, and the UN delegation has labelled it genocide. Refugees who do manage to escape by land or sea, report they are fleeing persecution, rape, torture, arson and murder by Myanmar security forces.

I find this sad, and confusing, as the Buddhist belief system teaches the valuing of all life. It seems Us and Them occurs everywhere, human-imposed suffering on other humans, who only want to live free of oppression. I am disappointed that Aung San Suu Kyi does not take a stand on this situation. She does not have control over the military, but so far has not condemned what is happening.

The people are suffering terribly, while we live comfortably on. It rarely hits mainstream news.

source

Friday, August 24, 2018

THAT FARTHER SHORE




When the angel of death 
arrives at my bedside,
like the ferryman coming 
around the bend of the river,
plying his oar with determination,
pulling alongside 
and beckoning me in...

When I gaze at him, 
my bed the shore,
wondering how to make 
my earth-bound body
traverse the space between us
without falling...

I think I will trust that 
the air will support me,
entering that bright darkness,
interested in discovering 
what comes next.

Yes, I think I will trust.

My life has been a voyage 
of wonder and amazement.
I have made this journey, 
head tipped back,
and grinning at the sky.
Trees have danced for me,
dogs and babies smiled,
my heart brimming 
with the dazzle
of this beautiful world,
who performed her best
sunrises and sunsets for me,
draping the mountains 
with breathtaking mist,
always whispering
"watch this!" and then,
       "watch this!"

I have long loved 
the stories of people
who rose - and rise -
from their heartbreaking situations
with hearts like lions,
walking forth into Whatever Comes
with full hearts, with dignity, 
with pride.
No surrender.

Yet when that dark angel 
comes for me,
I think I will surrender.
I will ride that bed-boat 
out into the cosmos,
transfixed by all the stars,
wrapped in clouds of transformation,
soaring through the heavens,
breath held in awe -
Beautiful Sky-World.

The river of amazement will carry me,
as it carried me through this life,
to my next destination,
where I hope I will find loveliness
like that of this world,
where I will meet lost loved ones,
and furry tails will thump in welcome.

At the end, I will say that, 
all of my life,
I have loved most this earth 
and its beauty.
In trust, I will step into 
the ferryman's boat,
ready to see what lies
on that farther shore.


Well. I may not be that trusting at all. I may flail and moan. LOL. We shall see. I'll report back!

One from 2017, to be shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where we have fine reading every Sunday morning.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

THE SKY OF LOST POEMS



she walks through nighttime streets
sleepwalker of the apocalypse,
ageless, aging,
strength leaving her body
yet still surprised by
her reflection
in shop windows.

who is that scraggly-haired, round
woman in fading clothes,
long ago forever-young,
once able to
command
with just her glance? 


under the guise of old age,
invisible,
spirit flagging,
she is the Observer, now:
of young people who believe
they will never be old,
of rich people who believe
they will never be poor,
of night streets breeding
dying dreams, false 
hopes,
despair,

as the stars wink out, one by one,
across the sky of lost poems.


For Sanaa’s prompt at Real Toads: the last line of a poem by e.e.cummings:  "in the street of the sky night walks scattering poems."

I took the whole poem as inspiration and tried to approximate its tone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A BEAUTIFUL WORLD




When sunrise reddens the morning sky,
in a sailor's warning,
do you see the mist wrapping 
breathtaking shawls
around the shoulders 
of the shivery hills?
Notice the cedar pointing poky heads 
through the clouds,
as if they are peering around
to see what kind of day it will be.
Hear the slap of a beaver's tail 
on the sleepy lagoon.
To creatures both rooted and rootless,
it is the most beautiful world.

Far off, red-robed monks
are walking prayerfully 
in the footprints of the snow leopard,
to hang prayer flags atop 
the snowy mountain peaks.
They gaze upwards towards heaven,
where their prayers are ascending
to the gods of the Himalayas,
and the thought of them
- humble, prayerful -
expands my heart with love
for this most beautiful world.

When noontime is lazy with the heat,
and bees buzz sleepily 
around the summer gardens,
when you bite into a ripe red strawberry
and juice drips down your chin, 
and you laugh as you catch the drops,
when the mourning doves call
from the top of the willow,
it sounds like they are
joining in earth's song: 
it is the most beautiful world.

When sunset turns the horizon 
into a crimson canopy,
with accents of gold and purple,
to majestically close the curtain
on the dramatics of the day,
when the moon rises up 
in the indigo sky
and the stars come out winking 
like mysterious mystical messengers,
when the dark hills huddle 
like a sleepy giant
along the inner harbour,
and the fading song 
of the whippoorwill
echoes across the inlet,
is the song in your heart 
the same as sings in mine?
A song of songs
to this most beautiful world!




for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: The World Is A Beautiful Place. Despite all of the suffering on this planet caused by humans, one has only to look outdoors to remember: it is truly a beautiful world.



Monday, August 20, 2018

SHAMAN



I dreamed about you.
You were walking on the beach
with a little black puppy.
Is this of significance to you?


Yes! I told her of the beach,
my wolf dog, dead for years,
my longing to return
to the home of my spirit.

Hold fast to that dream,
and I will put your intentions
out into the world
with my drumming and praying.
Your wolf dog visits me
to let you know he is near.
He will walk with you
on your beach
once again.


I held onto hope,
though it faltered with the slowness
of the years.
I watered my long-held dream
with longing and with tears.

I want to tell you
the other night when I was drumming
I put your intention out there once again.
I heard a wolf howl
and I felt energy moving
in your direction.


The call came the next day.
A space had opened up for me
in the place of my dreams.
That night I read that the planets
sometimes (rarely) align, as now,
in a certain way.
When they do, if you have a dream
that has been blocked,
and you are offered it:
Say Yes!
Do not let fear or doubt enter in.
I smiled as I read,
for I had said yes,
and yes,
and yes.


This is all true, kids. Every word. My mentor was chosen by Pup and found me through my poems. Even in old age, even if one has resigned oneself that it might never happen, I am here to tell you that dreams can come true - not just once, but many times. We are energy, and if we beam that energy in a good way out into the universe, the universe responds. It brings me comfort to know my Pup still howls for me. I howl inside my heart, every day, for him.

One from 2017.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Of Totems and Spirit Places


The Kermode Spirit Bear


On the misty islands of Haida Gwaii,
the spirits walk
and sometimes sing.
I have been told they also wail.

The ancient totems of SGaang Gwaay*
lean and topple onto the land
where the Haida thrived 
for 17,000 years.
If one is reverent, and listens 
with her heart,
she might sometimes hear 
the wailing of those ancient spirits,
the thousands who died
after the settlers came,
a desolate, inconsolable grieving
that the land remembers,
carried on the ocean breeze.

The cedars stand tall today
along protected shores,
where the white Spirit Bear
and grey wolf families
move peacefully through their
days and nights.
Mother Orca eats well here,
in this remote archipelago,
where it is more difficult
for our grasping machines
to reach and to destroy.

The Haida fought for forest,
and for sea,
cast off the settlers’ name
for the land they loved,
claimed it back as Haida Gwaii,
the Islands of the People,
strong and free.

My soul walks there
each time I think of it,
(a home where I have never lived),
padding softly through the forest
with mother wolf.
It walks along the shore 

with Spirit Bear.
I hear the whisper of spirit voices
in the trees,
the song of an ancient people,
my footsteps gentle
on this wild
and ancient land.


Totems from the 1890's


*SGaang Gwaay is the Haida name for the World Heritage site formerly known as Ninstints, where the ancient totem poles are now protected, and where it is said the spirits of the dead can sometimes be heard wailing, by those with heart enough to hear.
  
Haida Gwaii has always called to me, for its pristine wilderness, remoteness and wild beauty. Its people are hardy and self-sufficient, having survived its untamed landscape and stormy winters for thousands of years.



Haida Village in the 1890's



Called the Queen Charlotte Islands during the colonial era, it was reclaimed, appropriately, as Haida Gwaii, “the Islands of the People”, in 2010.



The Haida are culturally strong. Because of the archipelago’s remoteness, off the north-west coast of British Columbia,  it has been more difficult for development to decimate it, although it tried. The Haida fought hard for decades to protect the old growth, which was being clearcut.

In 1985, the Haida Nation designated Gwai Hanaas a “Haida Heritage Site", blockading successfully to stop logging in some areas. However, logging continued in others, while the Haida fought on. Finally, in 1993, Haida and government signed the Gwai Hanaas Agreement, designating it a national park preserve.

In 2010 the marine waters were protected also, by the establishing of the Gwaii Hanaas National Marine Conservation Area.

The Great Bear rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, comprising over six million hectares. The B.C. government recognized it in 2016, protecting 85% of its forest. The white Spirit Bear lives in this forest, a mythical and revered animal.

The Haida are a matrilineal society, divided into two groups, the Raven and the Eagle. When it comes time to marry, a person must marry someone from the other group.

Property, title, crests, masks, and songs are passed down through the mother’s side.

SGaang Gwaay today


Totem poles tell the story of each First Nations family, reflecting their clan history. Each animal on the totem, as well as its placement, has significance.

Upon contact in the late 1800's, the population of 8000 was decimated, only 589 surviving by 1915. The Haida have rebounded to 5,000 people now. Declining fish stocks and forest resources have led to the development of new approaches to financial survival, including tourism, secondary wood manufacturing and the arts.

For Brendan’s prompt at Real Toads: Totems. Since totem poles are a part of the landscape I live in, I thought I would write about real, rather than personal, totems. I know a woman who recently visited SGaang Gwaii, among the toppling ancient poles. I asked her if she felt the ancient energy there. She said she could hear wailing, the grieving of thousands of ghosts, those who died from smallpox, as she stood on that sacred land.

Sources:

discoveringourstory.wisdomoftheelders.org

thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

fngovernance.org