Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reflections on the Morning News

May the path transform
under our feet as we walk
stepping mindfully

As someone who was alive during the civil rights movement, whose heart broke when Martin Luther King was assassinated, who began writing for peace and justice at age fourteen,  my heart has been heavy - since 2016, because of the unfitness of the person in office in the USA to lead, to the overt racism, to his speech which incites racism and division - to the silence of those around him that is complicit in enabling the behaviour - and especially the last few days, when the festering wound has spilled open, after the murder of George Floyd by a policeman who knelt full force on the man's neck as he pleaded "I can't breathe." 

Last night I watched two police vehicles DRIVE INTO a group of protesters.

Systemic change is needed. For that we need leaders of integrity, someone people can believe in and trust.

The weight on me, of witnessing our being rolled back into 1950, of things I never thought I would hear and see from a sitting president in North America, is considerable.

But this morning, one note of hope in the nightmare - the Sherriff in Flint who took off his riot gear and marched with the protesters. The beauty of that moment brought me to tears, this time hopeful tears. The beauty of the human spirit when it rises outshines its darker side. Peace lies in the opening of hearts.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Birds of Waaxp̓inč̓a

Late spring evening, 
a thousand turnstones sing
across the harbour
on what we mamalthni**
call Neilsen Island.

The First Peoples of this land
have always known it 
as Waaxp̓inč̓a*,
island of the river otters.

The birds converse
in their ancient tongue.
The Nuu chah nulth say
there was a time
when human and animal
plant and tree
spoke to each other
in the same language.
It is we mamalthni
who have forgotten.
But the living land and water
cedar and osprey
orca, wolf and bear
must carry this wisdom
of interconnection
in cellular memory.

In counterpoint
upon the moment’s rapture,
a boat motor roars;
a seaplane flies in, low:
we humans, being –
our cacophony and clamour,
our relentless encroachment
on the wild -
the thousand singing voices
falling suddenly silent.

**Mamalthni is the Nuu chah nulth word for white people

* Waaxp̓inč̓a  means island of the river otters

This poem is part of the Sound Range Project: Poetry of a Soundscape, envisioned and brought to life by Tofino Poet Laureate Joanna Streetly. The project pairs poems, recorded sounds, and the language of the Nuu chah nulth people into an interactive map of Clayoquot Sound.

"I Can't Breathe"

It doesn’t take too many words
to describe this pit of hopelessness
I feel; Minneapolis is burning;
trump tweets about shooting the “thugs”;
calls the men with assault rifles
on Michigan state capital steps
“fine people”.

This is an intolerable world
in which to live, for those who
believe in justice, in diversity,
in equality.

In memory of George Floyd, killed when a police officer knelt on his neck, as he pleaded “I can’t breathe.” I can’t breathe either. Too many African American deaths by police, with no consequences. This four should be in jail right now. If the situation was reversed, for certain someone would be in jail - if they lived through the encounter. 

Time to unseat the ghouls in the white house who have unleashed so much division, empowering the darkest among us. It is hard to bear. 

For Hedgewitch’s Flash 55

Monday, May 25, 2020


"This is not a political protest.
This is an uprising of the soul."
David Brower

Wild Woman hears the voices
of the Old Ones,
rising on the winds of change,
telling us the white buffalo calf
has been born,
and the time of the prophecy
is at hand.
On the soft breezes of dawn, I hear
Grandmothers weeping all across the land,
where so much of what we have loved
is gone.

The Black Snake slithers
across Mother Earth.
Oil spills into the rivers of life,
the water of the People.
Mother Earth’s womb is torn apart
by fracking; the ocean fills with
plastic detritus and toxins. It vomits
a graveyard of man-made garbage.
Wildfires burn; mountain slopes
are laid waste;
rivers overflow their barren banks.
Whales and polar bears are starving,
the earth heats, the poles melt,
and a pandemic stalks the living.

Meanwhile the Mad King sits
on his throne of power
with money as his only god.
His grinning cohorts with dead eyes
stuff their pockets without a word;
no one has the strength of character
to oppose, and we see now
how Nazi Germany occurred.

Our Grandmothers’ blood
stirs in our veins.
This is the earth we love;
we can’t stay silent
as it is destroyed.
This world and its future
belongs to our grandchildren,
not to these mad fools.
We are muttering,
across the land and oceans;
we are rising in our numbers.
We are gathering,
in peaceful protest, but
with hearts like banshees.
Feel the chill on the hairs
on the back of your neck;
we are coming.

We are standing
by the sides of rivers
and sacred burial grounds.
We cannot turn away,
for the bones of our beloveds are here,
near your bulldozers and dynamite,
your pipeline of destruction.
We cannot turn away
because our children (and yours!)
need fresh water to drink.

You have dotted the landscape
of our nightmares
with strip mines and oil derricks.
In every corner, you threaten
our combined existence.
No! It is Enough.
We have lived men’s ways
for millennia;
see the result, as the earth gasps
under the yoke of your oppression
and misuse of power.

The Grandmothers and the Mothers,
the dancing Maidens, 
and the strong little rainbow children
are rising, with fire in our bellies
and the hope of transformation in our hearts -
with understanding even of the men
in the halls of power, wounded
and empty, whose dead eyes proclaim
they have never really loved or been loved.
Here is what wise women know:
even a trillion dollars
will never ease that wound.
Instead, hug your sad-eyed sons
and smile – not like crocodiles -
at your unhappy wives.

We will unseat you – sooner or later -
replacing you with those
who can lead with compassion:

the grandmothers and mothers,
and strong, dancing maidens.
This war is a holy war
of light over darkness
and truth over lies.
The Grandmothers and Mothers
are stirring;
the force of the Ancient Ones
is standing with us in our sorrowing.

Stand aside; we can show you
the way of life, of justice,
of harmony and healing.

We are grandmothers with wolf howls
in our hearts.
We will never be silenced.

I re-worked an earlier poem of protest for my prompt at earthweal: Protest in a Time of Pandemic

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Protest in a Time of Pandemic

by Jeff Kowalsky

Bear with me. I want to tell you something about how my inner being resists and rejects the racism, hatred and division coming at me on the news, encouraged by someone placed in a position of leadership who is not equipped intellectually or morally to lead. I want to tell you how many decades I have spent writing about and protesting for civil rights, African American rights, Indigenous rights, women’s rights, immigration rights, animal rights, gun control, environmental change and the rights of the creatures on Mother Earth to survival and a clean climate.

by Jeff Kowalsky

How do I get inside this topic and peel away the layers so you, too, can feel my outrage when I see people in Ku Klux Klan costumes openly marching? Men with American flags and assault weapons yelling their rage on State capital steps? A person in high office making inflammatory statements instead of leading with calmness and grace, taking us all down a slippery slope?

How do I come up with words strong enough to ease the pain in my heart, that will help open eyes and inspire change? How do I pick one thing, when so much needs to be transformed, starting with us?

Poets are prophets; we are the canaries in the mines. How do we open the doors, squeeze through the bars, Just Say No to the devastation happening everywhere?

In the time of the pandemic, so much else gets forgotten; yet it is all connected: the wet markets (still open) where the virus jumped from wild creatures to humans – wild creatures who should have been left in the wild, not carried to open markets to be boiled and barbecued and eaten. The virus is now showing up in outbreaks in North American meat processing plants, and, recently, even in fruit and vegetable processing plants. How do I tell you that I now look at the vegetables I am slicing with suspicion, wash them,  boil them to death, hope no stray virus cells have survived to arrive on my plate?

In our going forward, we need to go back: stop the global corporate stranglehold on our economy; return to shopping and eating locally, supporting small farmers nearby instead of importing food from across the world, stop polluting the skies to eat things from other countries that we can grow right here.

Let’s go deeper: let’s return to understanding that we are one small part of the natural world, not its overseers, lords and masters. We are waves and ripples, not the ocean; we are cogs, not the wheel. When we stop dominating and become one part, earth begins to heal and other beings begin to regain their compromised existence.

And let's remember: personally we may feel powerless, but together we are a mighty voice; at the polls, we decide. In our daily choices, we also cast our votes for a cleaner, kinder earth.

Dare I dream again as I once did that the transformation of consciousness, the people rising together, can topple this toxic regime and return us to something approaching dignity and social justice? That the corrupt will be banished and we will set to work restoring what has been lost, transforming what needs to change, working with our fellow man, caring for our fellow creatures, remember the hope of “Yes, We Can!”?

I hope so, for I need to tell you that the years since 2016 came close to extinguishing hope in me. Yet poets are  prophets; we are the canaries in the mines. I cannot abandon my post. There is still a small spark of belief that enough light-bearers will vote to topple the dark mercenary lords of corruption.

too many issues
grief layered upon grief
virus lays it  bare

Day Twenty-Four of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner

My prompt at earthweal tomorrow is  protest in a time of pandemic: to write poems about whatever you care most about. Hope you come and join us. I will link a poem there, but had already written this and decided to post it  today.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Dear Bear

"Snow White & Rose Red" art by Kerry Darlington

Dear Bear,
I would love to keep you
close, so we could share
the quiet hours, affection,
cups of tea -
and you would be
sweet company
for me.

But you would pine
for forests,
over time,
and wild black berries
taste sweetest
on the vine,

and so I know,
though the knowing grieves me so,
that my gift to you
is loving  you
enough to
let you go.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Wild Woman Has a Rainbow-Coloured Heart

Wild Woman has
a rainbow-coloured heart.
She lives in a time
of waiting for
the rainbow warriors
to arrive,
to walk the halls of power,
their only weapons
insight and compassion,
ethics and integrity.

It is the Time
of the Great Turning,
away from the ways of death,
towards the ways of life, 
of healing,
of restoration of the land,
the air, the sea, 
and all creatures.

Wild Woman colours
her heart
with the rainbow of hope.
She is waiting for
the Rainbow Warriors
to arrive.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Blue Sky Day

Wild Woman always has a smile,
a bright visage.
She is happy because,
everywhere she looks,
she sees water, hills and forests
that she loves.
She lives in a village 
of friendly folk
where she feels at home.
Every day,
there are many reasons 
to smile.

But accompanying her, 
is her shadow side,
filled with sorrow,
and the memory 
of trauma and loss.
She sheds her tears
in private,
keeps her sunny side
in gratitude,
for it all.

To Wild Woman,
every day
is a blue sky day.

The Good News

CNN photo 

The good news is not often on the morning news. But today it was. They told us of a senior with covid, fighting for his life in ICU, and how his family stood outside the window every day, making hearts with their hands, holding them up to the nurses at the window, who taped notes on the glass that said “We will tell him you love him. We will take care of him. We will hold his hand.” And when, today, the note said “He is at peace. We are so sorry”, still our hearts swelled, at their dedication, their kindness, their love on both sides of the glass. The generosity of front liners in a time when they are stretched to their limits.

The good news was not all on this morning’s news. On facebook are videos of First Nations gathering near the airfield in Kamloops, drumming and singing in honour of Captain Jenn  Casey, who lost her life when the Snowbird crashed there on Sunday. The good news is how people came from everywhere, un-prompted, to honour her, and how connections of the heart were made among those paying tribute and those who stood listening.

The news lists how many are dying. But the good news is so many are living, and we each can do something to move this world forward in a better way. The good news is we are alive, with spring all around us unfurling its wonders. The weeping willow leans over the creek in the morning sun where the wild geese are bathing. And a small dog looked shyly up at me through her eyelashes, so pleased, when I gave her a treat.

Before we go, this is what I want you to know: our time here meant something to me. In a time of pandemic, you offered me somewhere to put my thoughts, so my brain could rest easier under the weight that it carries. It lent energy to my words that had bogged down in discouragement. Sharing with you made my burden as a human on this earth feel shared, and thus lighter.

Before we go, I want to say thank you, to Laurie, and to each of you sharing your words and your selves, so we all know that we’re not alone. I want to say, I have loved my life, and this poetry journey which has brought me so many beautiful friends.

Day Twenty-Seven of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Singing Trees

Wild Woman is protected
by the singing trees,
who soothe her pain,
breathe peace on her,
wrap her in protective arms,
offer her a branch
to help her hobble.

When she enters the forest,
she greets them:
"Sisters, I come in peace
and gratitude."
The trees lean towards her,
Small creatures peep at her
from the branches.

A small white bird comes, singing.
It hops from branch to branch,
encouraging her passage.
She follows that bird
the whole day long.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Add One More Heartbreak to the Pile

Captain Jennifer Casey,
killed in the crash of an iconic Snowbird
May 17, 2020

Outside, in the Big World,
masked people observe social distancing.
Streets are empty; tourist destinations
are quiet. (At the junction, RCMP
are turning back tourists.
Tofino is still closed.)

Inside my hermitage, life continues
not much changed: some writing
in the morning, perhaps a walk,
hands washed on return,
a movie in the afternoon.
The weeks go by.

Silently, invisibly, on who-knows-what surface
(the handrail in my building? the door
where we all go in and out? the package
I pick up at the grocery store?)
lies someone's death notice.
Not mine, I pray. Not yet.

In the Big Picture, the seas are
still warming; the poles are melting;
wild animals are still displaced and
starving. Now, even more than before,
while everyone is worried about their
individual and family's safety,
who can spare a thought to
a climate moving steadily forward
into catastrophe?

In the Big Picture, I need a glass of wine,
these days, to watch the evening news.

My spirit is beaten down:
by the orange man's horrible rhetoric
and utter lack of humanity,
by his assault-weapon-wielding supporters,
by the feeling of Too Muchness
which surely means climate change
must be the last thing on most minds.

Yesterday a jet crashed on top
of a house in Kamloops. The Snowbirds,
our iconic performing jets,
crossing the country to pay tribute to front line workers
and lift our spirits, lost one of their own.

2020 is not half over, and the bad news
keeps on coming.

How to write - or believe - a hopeful poem?
Yet, always, so much to be grateful for:
I am not sick (not yet), I am here by the sea,
where I so longed to be.
I put out seed for the birds, like any other day.
I tend the seedlings growing in their plastic pots.
I bathe in sunlight and peace.
I write and read poems.

The Big Picture may be gloomy.
But within my peaceful rooms
even in the middle of a pandemic,
climate crisis, a crashing jet,
one remembers to be grateful
for the ease with which one's lungs
still breathe in and out,
and that, looking out, looking up,
one can always see the sky.

for Brendan at earthweal: the vastness and the particular of living through these times.

Captain Casey was aboard the Snowbird that crashed yesterday. She and the pilot, Captain Rich MacDougall, ejected when the jet began spiralling shortly after take-off. But they did not have enough altitude for their parachutes to deploy. Cpt. Casey died on impact with the ground. Cpt. MacDougall landed on a roof and sustained serious injuries, but is expected to survive. The elderly couple who live in the house that was crashed into were in the back yard so were not hurt.  The heartbreaks just keep coming. This beautiful young woman is from Nova Scotia where people are still trying to recover from the mass shooting almost a month ago. I don't know if my tired old heart can take much more. What hope I have is for the coming election. We need the madness in North America to stop (for some of what is going on in the U.S. spills across our borders.) We need North America to be kind again. To hell with "greatness."

Wild Woman In Love

Wild Woman is in love
with all furred creatures.
she strokes them,
her peaceful energy
soothing their fear,
drawing them near.
Their soft eyes,
 so sweet and shy,
gaze up at her
through their lashes
in trust.
She has to stop and greet
every one;
she cannot
pass them by.

The Forest of Growing Whole

Wild Woman lay wounded
on the Path to Becoming.
She observed the wounds
in silence, watched, over time,
as the skin of her heart
slowly knit itself
back together.

It is a miracle, the ability
that humans have: to heal,
amazing the resilience,
the courage, the hope it takes
to keep travelling
the Path of Tomorrow
until one finds oneself, at last,
in the Forest of Growing Whole.

Making the Soul Card Journey with Elizabeth Crawford

Let This Be the Year....

Let this be the year of the rough draft,
the year your pen caught fire and moved
across the page faster than you could keep up.
Let this be the year when you 
slink out from under all of the
Things You Should Be Accomplishing
and indulge in long, slow 
walks along the beach,
watching movies all afternoon,
putting off onerous chores 
until you feel like it
(which might be never. 
There is always that possibility.)

When those thoughts come upon you 
and stab you with the memories of times 
when you were not yet evolved
and you cringe at the memory 
of things said and done out of 
Your Great Unknowing, 
rather than flagellate yourself with
a muttered “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”, 
let this be the year when you
grant yourself some compassion, 
as you would for anyone else,
and say “I wasn’t whole then. 
I wasn’t healed. 
I didn’t know.”

Here’s what I forgot to tell you:
no one ever expected you to be perfect.
They only hoped you would not be harmed
and, in turn, would do the least amount 
of harm possible.
Let this be the year 
when the last 40 years of your living
hopefully make up for the first 30: 
the kindnesses shown, the gifts of time given,
the encouraging words, the support,
all to repay the many times 
you may have failed before.

Sometimes the words 
fall out of your mouth
with a life of their own. 
I remember the time when
the words dried up on my tongue.
“Do you still love me?”
he asked, as he had asked so many times,
for my reassurance.
But this time the words 
would not come,
so I gave him a silent hug, 
and he knew it was over.

I remember that small courtyard, 
the evening, the silence,
him telling me at the gate as he left
that he had really loved me.

Going into my house, 
free from the weight of his loving.

Day twenty-five of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Wild Woman's Heart

Wild Woman's heart
is lumpy and bumpy.
She carries it outside her body;
it lives inside the physical beings
of all whom she holds dear.
It has owies from all the pain.
She tries to polish and shine it
to make it a more worthy receptacle.

It resists.
It says
"Lumps. Deal with it."

Wild Woman shakes her head,
gives a cackle.

"Lumps. Deal with it," 
she can be heard snickering,
a wry smile on her face
as she lumbers away.

LOL. I love it when Wild Woman has a sense of humour. Making the Soul Card Journey with 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Coming Home

Wild Woman came alive
when she moved to live
beside the sea.
It was the coming home of her soul
to the place where she
was meant to be.

Now she sits, content, basking in
the surf's ancient roar;
gazing at its beauty,
she needs nothing more.

Making the Soul Card Journey with Elizabeth Crawford

You Can't Have It All, But.........

You can’t have it all, said everyone, all my life,
all the time, and I never did. But I had teen years
full of dreams and deep longing, the smell of
sweet pea and honeysuckle and peonies
on warm summer evenings; shy teen kisses
in City Park, a smiling brown-eyed boy
picking a blossom off a tree, saying
"Poor man’s orchid” as he handed it to me.

You can’t have it all, but I had
a cottage full of noisy, laughing children,
a big garden, a sprinkler going chook-chook-chook
on summer mornings. I had hikes up Knox Mountain,
flying kites on its slopes, the lake stretching, blue
and shining, into the distance, ringed by what I called,
in my babyhood, “the Big Blue Hills.”

“What do you want? Jam on it?” my mother would
laugh, when my wants exceeded the needs
of our impoverished household.
Yes, I wanted jam; I was always hungry, back then,
which is why I find it so hard to be hungry now.

“If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,”
smiled my Grandma, who was prone
to inscrutable wisdom,
and my life’s greatest teacher.
I pictured the beggars, their torn clothes
turned to velvet, on horses with thick manes,
tossing their heads imperiously.
And there would be castles for them, too,
who had never had homes.

There was a sea monster who lived in the depths
of the lake of my childhood. Some saw Ogopogo,
though I never did. I remember its statue,
and how my son climbed on it when he was eight
while I took photos. His eyes were innocent then,
of the suffering that lay ahead
when he turned seventeen.
Mine were unaware, too,
that motherhood grows more painful
as one’s children age; I am glad
I did not know, so our laughter rang out often
in that small house we so soon outgrew
that was our only home.

You can’t have it all, they say, over and over.
But I had this: a life, children, song, laughter,
poems, friends, the beauty of blue skies
and nature, to keep my heart dreaming.
And it is enough, and more than enough,
for me.

Day Twenty-Three of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner

We Dreamed

I spent Saturday afternoons at the Paramount
for the matinee, back then: Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers,
"Hiyo Silver, away!" -
at eight and ten,
I had no comprehension of
racial stereotyping, that Tonto barely spoke
to his kimosabe. I swallowed it whole:
heroes and horses, "good guys" and "bad guys",
oh, my.
A pacifist all my adult life, I once played
"cowboys and Indians" with a holster and metal guns.
Of course, we all wanted to be cowboys;
no one wanted to be the one getting killed.

$1.25 bought the price of admission,
pop and popcorn.
And now it costs a family of four $100
to go to the movies.
Popcorn the price of a string of pearls,
more if you want extra butter.

The audience was noisy; popcorn flew through the air.
Boys' feet thumped against the back of one's seat.
We laughed and screamed
at the flashing images,
and some of us dreamed
of one day being on the silver screen,
famous for as-yet-undetermined talents.
Oh, yes, we dreamed.

for The Sunday Muse

Friday, May 15, 2020

Brock and Friends

For half her life, the Dead Woman was in hiding,
her heart tender and traumatized
by all she had lived through.
She wore a cloak of silence, saw life through
a bubble of protection, as if through a pane;
felt safe only at home with her children,
guarded that safety by allowing only children in.

Then she walked through the door of the coffeehouse,
found a magical world of plants and smiles and music,
filled with people who lived gently on the earth -
she had known they must be somewhere,
and here they were.

They gave her space to feel safe.
At first, she hid in the kitchen; then the music
drew her to the doorway,
where she perched, enchanted,
against the old sewing machine,
ready to fly back to the kitchen
should she feel the need.

One night was especially magical.
Music and hearts had flown.
The man who ran the coffeehouse
asked if he could give her a hug.
She walked home under the stars,
her heart stirring to life again.
Next morning, she called him.
"It hurts!" she told him.
"It's better to be frozen!"
Coming to life,
her thawing heart ached
with the pain and power
of feeling her feelings.

"It's good to feel," he told her.
"If you can't feel the pain,
you can't feel the joy either."

It was too late anyway.
She continued to thaw,
to come alive, unfurled her branches,
laughed and sang and grew.
Brock and Friends healed a lifetime's trauma
by simply loving her until she learned
to love herself.

Brock and Friends in Kelowna was where I spent the early 80's: a funky old house, hung with plants and stained glass, where we had live music every night. I quickly became the person who did the cooking and serving, running the inside of the place; Brock Tully did the promotion and organizing of events. We laughed so much in those years. When the coffeehouse closed, I gave a farewell speech on stage in front of 800 people - the person once too scared to come out of the kitchen. One of the women told me after, "Your power and your beauty made me cry." They had watched my emergence.

Brock and Friends changed my life - they gave it back to me, brand new, so I got a shot at a better way of life. It was one of the great gifts of my life, a turning point. Had that place not happened to me, I never would have wound up in Tofino.

Making the Soul Card Journey with Elizabeth Crawford

Fourth Grade

What I missed the day I was absent from fourth grade:

Playing hopscotch: throwing the keychain into a square, hopping one-legged, swooping down to pick it up, the two-squared hop, then back on one leg: chalk lines blurring as many feet make the perilous passage

Skipping, so hard to master, especially the long line held at each end by one of the girls, trying to hop in and skip without tangling in the rope; double dutch, a skill I never mastered, one needing to be coordinated and fleet of foot and eye; the rhymes girls chanted as we skipped that I've forgotten now, but that likely still are chanted on school playgrounds by girls in spring dresses

Small folded paper triangles, you fit your fingers inside, opening and closing them like beaks while the other child picks which square to lift, to see what is written underneath

Chalky-tasting heart-shaped candies with words printed on them: you’re sweet, be mine. They didn’t taste good but we ate them anyway because: candy!

The teacher’s smile, just for me, as I bent industriously to my work, carefully etching the word “paw”, falling in love with the word, the beginning of my love affair with putting words on paper

The morning I gave a note to my mother that said: I am going to run away, and how she sent me one back that said, wait and I’ll go with you and how it made me laugh

Being called Sheryl the Barrel, which I hated

Squishy, soggy, unappetizing sandwiches, and envying the kids who had better lunches, with packaged snacks

The smell of white paste; the smell of the classroom: paper, stale air, orange peels, the window open but never a waft of air large enough to freshen what we were breathing - school classrooms still smell like this

Inkwells, what a recipe for disaster; pens with sharp metal nibs, how we had to practice cursive by doing entire rows of O’s across the page, and how my pen nib caught, making holes in the paper, and the shaming ink blotches that were not fixed when I used the soft blotter; how my penmanship has always been awful, while some of the girls did beautiful writing, round and sweet. Do kids learn cursive any more?

Social disasters, me awkward and freckled and shy, a perfect target for the laughing nasty kids who got a kick out of making other kids blush, or cry

Running home planning to play dolls with my friend; I would say to her “let’s not make our dolls fight today”. But always, she wanted the dolls to fight, and we would storm out, angry, protective mothers, deeply offended on our doll’s behalf, and not speak to each other the rest of the day. The next day, I would run home from school, and say the same thing, hopefully. Maybe this time would be better. (The story of my life.)

Day Twenty-One of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mother Earth

Mother Earth
has billions of children,
furred, feathered
and two-legged.

She gives us
"enough for our need,"
the shaman said,
"but not our greed."

The animals and
the indigenous people
of the land
live in harmony
with the earth
and its natural cycles.
They know we are 
all connected,
that everything
is one.

They are waiting for
the rest of us
to join them there.

I Remember.......

I remember……

The slap of  water hitting the side of my grandma’s cottage waking me on summer mornings, as she hosed things down against the coming heat

I remember the smell of the air, lake-scent and weeping willow, bathing suits hung on the line that never dried out between swims, the hammock under the willow tree, where I read and dreamed on summer afternoons

I remember the smell of sweet pea and pinks, and the tall hollyhocks planted near where grandpa parked his brown and white Ford, how he said Ford was the best, and he drove that car forever. I remember his gruffness, but also the twinkle in his eye, and the shiny dime he would send me in its own small envelope, when I was back in the city with my parents

I remember that, back then, a dime could buy a  popsicle,  some penny candy and Dubble Bubble

I remember that my grandma’s house was peaceful, was my safe place, so quiet I could hear the metal clock on the kitchen window ledge ticking and tocking from every room in the house

I remember Grandma’s tea parties, card tables set up in the small living room for bridge, fancy teacups, sandwiches and dainties

I remember playing Old Maid with her, and how she always fooled me into picking the Old Maid, and how she'd laugh at my chagrin. When I tried the same tricks with my grandchildren, I could never fool them. I was always the Old Maid. Prophetic, as it turns out.

I remember sitting with grandma in the living room, looking into the small gas fireplace and her telling me to look for the fairies dancing in the flames

I remember summer afternoon thunderstorms, and swimming, once, during a storm, the lake full of ripples, the sky dark grey and lowering, the scent of metal in the air as the lightning flashed

I remember picnics at Mission Creek with my cousins; the time Jeanette got stung by a bee; the time the husky, Mickey, rolled in something awful, and we gasped for breath, laughing, all the way home

I remember Big Boy, the huge black cat, and how my grandma would hold the door open for him, then let go of it too soon so he had to streak out, yowling, to avoid getting his tail caught

I remember the Big Brown Chair, and my cousin Teddy and I vying for who got to sit in it. I remember him looking into the yard, saying he saw a little brown bunny; when I got up to look, he leaped into the chair and said I was the silly brown bunny that let him have the chair

I remember riding horseback with my grandma at Mission Creek, and how my horse took off, galloping along the trail, and I thought he was going to jump the gate at the end; how I felt exhilarated and ready to jump, but he stopped just in time. The best ride I ever had, and also the last as after that I was too nervous.

I remember having just turned fourteen, the summer my father died, sitting reading in a chair in Grandma’s front room, when my cousin Charlie arrived for the funeral, and his astonished, “That’s Sherry?” because I had grown and learned how to do my hair.

In memories of childhood, it is always summer, and I am always at my grandma’s, where I spent every summer of my childhood, where I learned what safety felt like. I have re-created that same peacefulness in my own home ever since.

Day 21 of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner