Monday, September 27, 2021

Saying the Names With Love*

 

* (after the famous poem "Say the Names"
by  the beloved Canadian poet Al Purdy)

Say the names say the names
and listen .........
these names that forever
sing through my soul,
that came alive for me
in the forests
and along the wild shores
of Clayoquot Sound.

Bedwell Sound and Lemmens Inlet,
Fortune Channel and Sulphur Passage,
those names ring through my heart
in kinship with those who put
their bodies on the line
- and still do -
-No Pasaran!-
to protect the Old Ones
under threat by
corporate greed.

Drumbeats in the early morning
along the Kennedy River bridge
still tap tap tap in my heart
along with my passion
for the trees, for the wild shores,
for the curving slopes
of my wild spirit's home.




Hesquiaht, Ashousat,
Kakawis, (Basket of Berries),
sound and resound
in my heart,
like the marine radio
my heart was once attuned to,
fishermen repeating the beloved names
above the static,
laughter and messages
and "Choo!"
the Tla-o-qui-aht goodbye.



Wickaninnish and Rosie Bay
and Combers, Ahous Bay
where the grey whales
stop to feed....
riding out in a zodiac,
the seaspray in my face,
the eagle's cry in my heart,
blue herons on the rocks,
little puffins bobbing on the waves -
every inch of land and sea and sky
beloved.

Rain slickers and rubber boots,
the endless winter rain, and gusts of wind
that bent us over as we struggled
across the streets in winter gales,
and the wild wild roar of the waves
crashing on the shore,
while the foghorn mooed
at Lennard Light
and all the seabirds hid themselves
to ride out the storm.



Lone Cone standing tall,
and Catface Mountain,
peeping across at the
womanly slopes of Meares,
the sentinels and guardians
of our village,
orcas breeching in the channel
to our joyous shouted "thank you!"
and, across the bay,
the twinkling lights of Opitsaht,
little boats chugging back and forth
across the harbor,
heading home at twilight.

Say the name of the wild Megin River,
carving itself through root-packed shores
of cedar and salal,
and watch the wild wolves
pacing down to drink,
a black bear ambling along the shore
looking for fat salmon.



Hear the eagle's call
at Tonquin,
the waterfall singing at Tofino Creek,
or point the bow of your canoe
up the Cypre River.
Paddle hard for Browning Passage,
beat the tide,
or turn off along Tofino Inlet,
when the surge returns
to cover the mudflats.
Pull into the cove at Windy Bay.
Shelter there awhile.

Say the names say the names
and my heart weeps with love
for the otherworldly beauty
and the kinship with the wild
that lived inside my soul
when I lived there.

My heart will say these names
for as long as I live
and, when I die,
say these names over me
and bury me on a windswept dune
beside the sea,
so it can forever sing me to sleep
in my heart's home.

Say the names say the names...
cherish these wild and pristine places.
Stand against the corporations
who would clearcut and strip
these beloved, necessary
and endangered slopes.

Say the names, my friends,
before they all
are gone.


for my prompt at earthweal: Say the Names, inspired by Canadian poet Al Purdy's famous poem of the same name. I wrote this poem when I lived inland, missing this beloved place, with every name singing a song of love and longing inside me. And now I am here, so grateful. We blockaded in 1993 to stop the clearcutting. Since then, so many trees have come down due to over-development. And a mining company was eyeing Catface Mountain, to our horror. One never has the assurance that forests are safe, when one lives in an extractive capitalism society.



Saturday, September 25, 2021

Old Houses speak in Hollow Whispers




Old houses speak
in hollow whispers.
This one has its own
story to tell.

The roof sagging into itself,
front steps rotted
and all askew like crooked teeth,
the door creaks slowly open.
Dust motes dance and whirl
in the afternoon sun.
There is the scent of mothballs,
and ancient cats.

The stairs groan, remembering
laughing boys and girls
pounding up and down,
sliding down the bannister.
On the walls are smudges and handprints,
cracked peeling wallpaper,
pale green, with big pink cabbage roses.
Tattered and dusty mesh curtains
hang limp and grey at filmy windows.
In the hallway,
up one side of the doorjamb,
back by the kitchen,
are penciled names:
William, Henry, Emily, Rose.

Upstairs, the small rooms
are filled with old iron bedsteads,
and remembered echoes
of whispered nighttime conversations
from a century ago,
when all the world
was young.

Two elderly sisters lived here
from the time they were small.
They were young women in this house,
dressed in sprigged cotton,
sitting on the porch
on cool summer evenings.
The brothers came in to dinner
sweating, silent, sunburnt
from the haying.
Suitors, in time, arrived on horseback
to pay their calls,
the young people sitting,
stiff and uncomfortable,
in the parlour,
teacups and saucers clinking
in their nervous hands.

How the sisters
whispered and giggled
with each other, later, upstairs
those soft summer evenings
before sleep,
dreaming their innocent dreams.

But life had other plans.
Their father died, and then their mother.
The brothers married off.
The two sisters stayed on,
in the house where they were grown,
and somehow, in the daily routines
and passing of the quiet hours,
the life they had dreamed of
passed them by.
They lived out their days
together
in this shabby, down-turning house.

Every evening, through all the years,
the two sisters walked,
slowly, with their canes,
along this country road.
Last time we passed,
only one aged sister was left,
standing, staring,
at the end of the footpath,
watching her days
slowly wind themselves down,
one by one.

Tonight, 
no sister standing at the gate,
the house stands empty,
as it has not been since 1915.

How those echoes must whisper
like disappointed ghosts
through all
the dusty, barren rooms.


A story for the Sunday Muse. There is such a house with two elderly sisters,  out the end of Beaver Creek, in Port, where I lived before. Empty now of all but memories.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Landscape Longing for Repose

 


I like for you to be still;
mindless chatter
makes my head hurt.
I prefer to listen to bees,
and the small sound the hummers make
when they dive-bomb the nasturtiums.

I like for you to be still.
At the shore, there are wave-songs,
joyously singing melodies
I need to hear.
They say, if you are quiet, and listen,
you can hear ants singing by rubbing
their back legs together.
I have been listening ever since
for their song.

In the forest, there is a symphony
of leafsong and summer breeze,
the timpani of light raindrops on salal.
But you have to be silent
to hear the sweet sounds
of nature at her work.
One must still one's heart
to notice the sky
casting a benign, bemused glance
upon we earthlings,
as we scurry about like demented ants
on a landscape longing for repose.


A poem from 2019 based on the title of Neruda's poem "I Like for You to be Still". Shared at earthweal's open link.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Mother Trees



Let's tiptoe with the Druids
into a world of green:
tall, sentient, conscious beings,
who help us breathe,
unseen.

Do you feel that thrumming
in the centre of your chest?
Trees, like elephants, 
communicate
with every forest guest.

Look for the Mother Tree,
the most vibrant  in the glen.
She supports all life around her,
across the grove and back again.

I wonder at the fear they share
across the forest floor,
holding hands, and trembling,
at the chainsaw's
mighty roar.

Desperately, the forest tries
to dream their dreams in green,
but are waking to a nightmare
with every chainsaw's scream,
laying waste the ancient world of green
that took so long to grow,
before the dollar bill became
the only god we know.

At Fairy Creek, the Druids weep
as the Standing People fall,
reducing our chances of survival.
Death to one
is death to all.






There was a time on earth, many millennia ago, when carbon dioxide was so great human life could not be sustained. Then came the ferns and trees, making the earth habitable, cooling the planet and allowing us to breathe. "Thus," says Diana Beresford-Kroeger, in To Speak for the Trees, "cutting down trees, our life support system, is not only a suicidal act; it is a homicidal one, too."

She says the feeling in our chest we get in the forest is infrasound communication that trees, like elephants, emit over great distances. This feeling is called mothaitheacht. Diana was taught by Druids, who believe that trees are conscious, sentient and feeling beings, who can think, and maybe even dream. I hate to think what they must be feeling in Fairy Creek right now, as some of the oldest trees left on the planet are being mowed down by rabid greed.

for Brendan at earthweal: A Timbered Choir



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Collateral Beauty*

 

My grandkids, when they were younger

This world is so beautiful,
with moments of heart-stopping wonder,
when we catch our breath in awe,
at the myriad of small miracles
unfolding before us every day.

This world can seem so dark,
with the ignorant, entitled and ugly forces
that seem to be trying
to tip the balance of light into darkness
across the planet.
Sometimes, it feels like
they are winning.

Let's always remember
the moments of collateral beauty,
when we realize our 
profound connection
to everything.
Let's cling to our belief
that - no matter what -
this beauty is the way
it was always meant to be.


Inspired by watching the film "Collateral Beauty" with Will Smith this afternoon. What is that quote? "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."


Saturday, September 18, 2021

Wild Woman Knows What She Knows

 


It is time, Wild Woman,
to bring forth all your gifts,
for the seasons now are quickening,
and swift.
Sing out your songs,
sing loud and strong and clear.
Write all your poems,
to say that you were here.

A Wild Woman creates her own way.
She runs with her inner wolves,
and she has a lot to say.
She speaks what truth she knows,
avoiding angst or wrath.
She follows her intuition,
along the unmarked path.

(Truth:
Wild Woman knows what she knows,
and she'll share her wisdom well
before she goes.)

Follow these pawprints into the forest,
Sister mine.
They will lead you to a home
Grandfather Cedar makes so fine.
An owl with piercing yellow eyes,
a cat with Cheshire grin,
will be on the doorstep watching,
waiting to let you in.

There is a conjuring old woman
living there,
her spirit fixed between
the sky and earth.
She has lived apart from others
since her birth,
doesn't care at all what people think.
Listen well to every incantation,
for all of them
are linked.

Wild Woman has fallen bewitched
by the beauty of the earth.
Before the fire,
she is singing over the bones.
When she finishes her song,
(and it won't take very long),
she will welcome you
to the Sisterhood of Crones.


An old poem shared with earthweal's open link.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Labyrinth




One foot, another foot,
breathing peace, we walk
the labyrinth.

We have strayed from the Old Ways
of the People. Meditating
on the lip of the precipice,
what pathway will lead us
from the anthropocene maze?

At Fairy Creek, the elder speaks
of healing Mother Earth,
so all may live. 
He points his eagle feather;
I follow where he leads.

One step, a leafy breath.
Another step, a human sigh.
Look up! Rainbows and eagles
are painting hope
across the sky.


for Ingrid at earthweal: The Anthropocene Labyrinth.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Wings and Feathers

 


You are braided through my life
with wings and feathers -
always flying off to
Somewhere Else,
where I cannot follow.

We grew up together,
journeyed together,
souls in transit,
me learning too late
what I needed to know
back then,
alas and alack.

Slowly, my hair turned
the colour of
silvery ash. I am wiser,
now, but the thing about life is,
there is no
going back.



Thinking of my children, fellow voyagers, and how young I was, in my 30's, trying to raise four kids on my own. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Cry Like a Coyote

 

cbc.ca photo

In Stanley Park, jewel of the city of Vancouver,
acres of forest trails are the delight
of the West End - home to coyotes,
who kept out of sight for years,
till we became too many
and their habitat too small,
till they grew hungry
and emerged from their dens
to be fed by humans.

This was not a kindness.

Some bites on the ankles
of people along the seawall
when they didn't produce food
other walkers had given,
and now they will be "humanely 
euthanized" for the crime
of existing near the margins
we have etched into
the forest that once was theirs.

On the news today, the "cull" (killing)
has begun - not humanely -
as they are caught in leg-hold traps,
suffering till they are "liberated"
from their pain by the "humane" shot.

I could cry like a coyote
for the shortcomings
of humankind,
for the loss of the wild ones' home,
for the destroyer species we are,

for our lack of understanding
of how to live with our wild neighbours.
I cry with the coyotes
who will be "culled" (killed) for the crime
of existing on land that has become
dangerous for every non-human being

and will one day be as unsafe
for those of us who believe ourselves
immune to the inhumanity
gaining ascendance
on the planet.


for earthweal - hard to find a positive note of hope these days. Innocent coyotes, whose habitat has been diminished and encroached - fed by humans, when they are hungry and lacking natural food sources - dying, because we are so many, and we have the power. 

Today the police and industry goons used heavy equipment to CRUSH the cars of three protestors at Fairy Creek, one belonging to  a media rep. Three CARS. How are they allowed to behave like this? Injuring protestors (daily!), crushing property - and no consequences at all. (I worry especially as my friend is a media rep and he is up there right now.)

I cry - like a coyote, like a wild wolf, like a conscious human who cant believe what we are doing to this planet, so unconscious that what we do to the coyote will eventually, karmically, inevitably, happen to us.


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Please, Would a Shambhala Warrior Borrow My Pen?

                                
                                                                    source
I.

When all of life is threatened,
and barbarians are strutting through
the halls of power,
when our future survival hangs by a thread,
it is said that is when the Shambhala warriors
will arrive.

They are bodhisattvas, beings of peace.
You may not recognize them -
(or you might: check out Joe Kennedy III
and Barack Obama. Look for eyes that shine
with empathy and compassion).
The Shambhala Warriors
will walk the corridors of power
armed with two weapons
- compassion and insight.
With courage and integrity,
they will dismantle the ways of death,
and lead us on a new path,
for the time has come
for a great Turning.

II.

When you feel this earth grief we carry
is too much to bear, take heart.
It is because you care
that you are alive at just this moment,
to assist the transformation
from the patriarchal to the divine feminine.
Women are rising up everywhere,
planting trees and gardens,
cleaning streams and beaches,
standing guard to protect the sacred waters.

Women are wise in the ways
of growing things: food, animals, children.
Women understand that all things
are connected, each of us
a strand in the web of life.

Mother Earth is speaking to us, now,
with all of her voices.
Let us hear her, add our voices to hers,
and heal this world back together again.

Bodhisattva Warriors come in all shapes and sizes.
You will recognize them
by their peaceful countenance,
and their ready smile. They are kind.
One may offer you a seat on the bus,
when it is packed and you are tired.

They are gentle. In the midst of discord,
shouting, crisis and panic,
watch for the one who is still,
who observes, then tries to help,
if he can.

You can tell a bodhisattva by the way they see
the good in human nature. They are peaceful warriors,
who spread compassion, rather than further conflict.
They will give the little they have
to those who need it more,
and be grateful for the giving.

III.

Bodhisattvas believe that, with kindness and love,
the crooked way can be made straight,
and the rough road made smooth*.

The best thing about a bodhisattva
is he doesn't know he is a bodhisattva.
He is humble, kind and serene, and,
when his out-stretched hand
is dealt a blow, he forgives
and quietly moves on.

This planet is peopled
with undiscovered bodhisattvas.
Their prayers keep us floating through space,
balance the toppling poles,
and bridge the distance between heaven and earth.

Their message is to turn from violence to virtue
before the Kingdom of Shambhala arrives.

 (* from Ecclesiastes)

IV.

Under the bodhi tree, the Buddha woke up.
May this whole world awaken.
Gandhi spoke of "the uplift of all".
In Sri Lanka, Buddhists speak of
everyone "waking up by working together".
The man-made ills of this world, they tell us,
can be mind-solved.

My friends, what world
shall we dream into being together?
Let us all become Shambhala warriors.
Let us write a new path into tomorrow
with our Shambhala pens,
open our eyes, our dreams, our vision
to the web of life to which we all belong.
With all of the sorrow, and hope and
love in our hearts, let us help our planet heal.

We have never felt so far from peace,
yet, somewhere up ahead, perhaps on the other side
of cataclysm, calamity and immense suffering,
I dream of a new world, shining and green,
dotted with buffalo, and trees,
and peaceful folk who have learned how to live
with respect for the land and its creatures.

In those times, whales will no longer starve.
The living waters will run clean, and wolves and bears 
will once again have forests in which to live.

We are alive in the times
of which the ancestors spoke.
I am waiting for the Shambhala warriors
to arrive. One lived in my pen
for a bit this afternoon. We dreamed
sweet dreams together
of the world that Could Be.

Some day, I dream, there will be
the thousand years of peace
we have been promised.
Not in my time, not in yours,
but I hold that vision in my heart,
to comfort me through these times
when it seems the whole wide world
has finally gone mad.


Many great Buddhist masters have prophesied that, when the forces of aggression amass on earth and no reason can turn them back, the kingdom of Shambhala will open its gates and its enlightened warriors will come forth into battle. Whoever they encounter will be given a choice -- turn from non-virtue to virtue or, by direct, wrathful intervention, be liberated into a pure land beyond suffering. 

It seems, now, given the right-wing, corporate-funded powers in many countries, that we will not make the conscious shift we need in time, but only after passing through terrible times of hardship, in response to cataclysmic events. But Mother Earth will heal. One day she will begin again.

for my prompt at earthweal: Consciousness Raising During the Apocalyplse. Hope and reality make strange bedfellows, but it's all we've got.



Saturday, September 4, 2021

ROAD TRIP

                                       
                                                                           1976

Wild Woman, before she knew
she was Wild Woman,
once packed up a little yellow Pinto with:
a ten day old baby, two small sons,
a St. Bernard puppy (who grew!),
an English pram, an Underwood typewriter,
and assorted cereals, breads and cold cuts.
That's the Before shot.
(Note the high-water jeans!)

Behind the wheel was
an alcoholic con man,
temporarily disguised as
My Baby's Daddy,
with his calculating eye
and a beer never far
from his right hand.

Down Highway 101 we rolled,
past the glorious ocean
at which he refused to stop,
past the Monarch butterfly migration,
which we flew through,
because he was always rushing
to get Somewhere Else.

My baby daughter smiled
her first smile at me,
on that long drive.

We lived in and out of the car,
our own Hotel California,
for two months, give or take.
He had promised to get a job
and "look after you for a change"
but that didn't happen.
My kids grew lean and hungry
and once I wrote
the only bad cheque of my life
to get them some food.
(I repaid all of what
this entire aberration cost,
for years.
But it was all worth it,
to have my sunny little daughter.)


It was an adventure.
There were high moments, laughter,
the feeling of being young, and alive,
along with the worry
of living on the absolute edge
of desperation;
there was the coming to see
exactly how impossible
my life had come to be.

Late fall, we pointed
the nose of the car north,
and made our way back up the coast.
I looked out at all the little houses,
the small yards, men washing cars,
kids playing,
moms hanging their wash out on the line,
and Normal had never looked
so good to me.


Note: on return, he hit the road, and I was able to start my life over again from scratch, not for the first time, and not for the last. There is more to this story, but I'll save it for my memoir, LOL.


Friday, September 3, 2021

Hope and Survival During the Apocalypse



The jays chatter on my balcony,
squawking over seed, as if this life will go on forever,
and the seed will always be there.
This is hope during the apocalypse.

Somewhere wildfires are burning;
animals fleeing in wild distress.
Those fighting the flames
can hear their screams.

I walk into the forest: coolness, peace,
sunlight slanting through the branches,
everything green, green, green:
leafy breath and human sigh.
This is relief and comfort 
during the apocalypse.

The anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers
are protesting outside the  hospital.
Uttering profanities,
they block an ambulance from
delivering its patient.
They spit at a nurse going to work
(to save the unvaccinated 
dying of covid inside.)
This is entitlement and disrespect
        - to the max -
during the apocalypse.

At the CoOp, we catch each other's glance
above our masks; we nod;
our eyes smile. We do not speak,
our words too muffled. But there is not one person
without a mask. This is solidarity, this is a community
caring for each other, during the apocalypse.

It feels like a large segment of the population
is experiencing a psychotic break, convinced
by fake news that reality is fake
and fake news is real.
"Communist news!" they jeer
at the free press. My mind boggles
at the depth of the rabbit hole
we have fallen into.
If the Mad Hatter pours me some tea,
it will be no stranger than what
is on my tv screen.

The sandy beach stretches ahead
as it always has; the waves surge to and fro,
they ebb and flow, in their eternal dance.
This is my moment out of time,
my walking meditation, like
Thay in Plum Village:
with this step, I breathe in calmness,
with this step, I breathe out peace.
"I kiss the earth with my foot."

This is survival. This is
trust in the Big Picture, and in
Mother Earth's ability to survive.
This is me, trying to survive, myself,
to stay steady, to withstand. This is me,
holding onto hope,
dreaming in green
during the apocalypse.


Inspired by the amazing poem "Surviving the Apocalypse", written by 15 year old Nina Evans, a prompt for Wild Writing by Laurie Wagner. Sharing with earthweal's open link.


Monday, August 30, 2021

A World in Need of Shamans

 

Tonquin Guardian
by Christine Lowther

Slow the clocks. Let the day
dawn slowly, mind struggling
to balance the fast world
coming at me.

Become the Observer,
the mystic said, and I do.
I observe a world that
has lost its centre,
a world in need of shamans.
I grow slower, and more silent,
in response.

During the years
when my children were growing,
each spinning off into danger,
far from my protection,
I learned how to Be a Tree,
strong at my centre to support them,
flexible with my wavy arms,
so we could lean and bend
and sway with the times.

Old age is Deep Time.
The seasons have brought forth
what harvest there is. There is
time to reflect, to walk in
an old growth forest,
commune with the Ancient Ones,
breathe in connection,
breathe out peace.
I am as tired and slow
as an old elephant,
just from Remembering.

Slow the clocks. Let the sun 
set at the shore inch by inch,
as we ponder all we have learned
by the end of the day.


for Brendan at Earthweal where we are considering: Slowness, a state with which I am very familiar.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Finding Home

 


As a teen, walking to school,
feeling homeless, no where
in the world that I belonged,
white picket fences
and milk bottles on doorsteps
made me cry.
I was a lonely soul
in search of home.

As a young woman,
lonely in my marriage,
I walked the streets
after nightfall,
looking in windows.
I remember a woman
sitting on a couch reading,
in soft lamplight's glow,
looking up, smiling,
as a young man brought her
a cup of tea.
I was in wonderment
at that sort of caring.

As a young mom,
i wore the wheels off
several baby carriages,
pushing my children
through miles and miles
of summer afternoons,
looking in yards,
looking in windows,
seeing other lives
- ordinary lives -
living the life I dreamed of
that never was mine.

Because all I wanted
was a partner, my soul's journey
was to live my life alone, to make
a family with my children, and,
when my children had grown,
with dogs, and with friends,
and to have life be enough.

I found Home at the shore,
where I found peace and joy
I had struggled so hard to win,
letting the susurration of the breakers
wash through me, through my ears,
my brain, my being,
until I was as calm as the lull
between waves, as strong and silent 
as the smooth stones scattered
along the shore, as patient as
the sand dollar, that spins home
from the sand and grit around it,
and carries it within.




Wednesday, August 18, 2021

It's Just a Random Thought, But Could We Manage No More Pain?

Wepna Loneagle image from Grandmothers Circle the Earth


It is twilight and, from where I sit, the world is peaceful and so beautiful. Yet wildfires rage, consuming towns; people and animals wild and tame are fleeing - the climate refugees of today, no politician cares to know their name - and in Afghanistan, people cling to the underside of planes, with desperation so extreme they'd rather lift off and fall from above than remain - like the falling bodies of 9/11 - better to die leaping than to burn.

Floods, landslides, earthquakes - everywhere is hurting. Yet our politicians are not talking about the fact our world is burning - they are spouting empty words hoping to gain more power, as if the Apocalypse isn't right outside our door. As if we believe their empty promises any more.

Yet, still, Mother Earth continues living in her dying: small furry things are born, gardens blossom (where they are not parched), and children remain hopeful that when they grow up, there will still be old growth trees, and air to breathe. It is amazing how much every living thing just wants to live.

Might we find a way to nurture life, instead of destroying everything for cash?

Night is falling. In a serene sky, out my window, I see a half-moon winking in at me.
I just don't want living things to suffer. I don't want animals to hurt or to flee wildfires, terrified and burning, their screams echoing across the landscape as the people evacuate in their SUV's.

I want we humans to be worthy of the gift of life we have been given, to tend the trees and gardens of the earth with gentle hands. I want us to be beings of life, not death, of care, not greed.
The way of extraction capitalism has brought us to the brink. If we work with Mother Nature to slow the pace of climate collapse and restore the devastation, it just might be possible to save this world, I think.

It is in nature that I find my peace, my solace, my comfort - it strengthens me to bear what I must bear. I am so grateful to Mother Earth. And so sorry she is suffering because of those blinded by greed and money.

Another poem for my prompt at earthweal which considers the world as it might have been - or still might be if we had leaders ready to ACT.


His Eyes





His eyes
looking up at me, age three,
huge, round, dark blue,
innocent. When I told him
he would have a baby sister
and we would teach her
how to walk and talk,
"and how to be happy" he said,
his kindness making me
catch my breath in awe
at the largeness
of his soul.

His eyes, always laughing,
as a child, so joyous,
dancing with his baby sister,
hugging her close; later,
as a teen, so protective,
holding her hand on the street
as bullies taunted him.
"Dont worry. Just keep walking,"
he said. Keeping her safe.

His eyes, at seventeen,
in the psych ward
as his world collapsed:
still, the same round eyes,
still, the same wry smile.

His eyes, through his illness,
haunted, tortured,
as his dreams all dimmed,
and his life grew lonely
as the walls closed in.

His eyes, Monday morning,
through the tablet screen:
trapped and helpless
on his hospital bed
as life throws another hurdle
in his path, that has already
been so hard.
If I could switch places
with him, I would,
but I can only look into
those same blue eyes
with all my mother's heart -
those eyes still the colour
of all my morning skies.


On Monday my son, age 50, suffered a serious stroke, affecting his speech and the left side of his body.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Earth: An Alternative Narrative



                                                              
Picture an earthly garden
(the way it was when we were
not so many).
See the sun come up
behind the greenly hills,
hear in the forest deep
the songbirds' happy trills.

Our beyond-human relatives
go softly about their work of Being.
We look across our gardens
with sweet surmise.
Who knew humans
could live so well?
Who knew that we
could ever
be this wise?

The sky is clear;
the future lies so bright
and sweet ahead.
The world is clean again
and we have
- dare we dream it? -
for forever
banished dread.


Well, one can dream. It may too late to return the world to a pristine state. But it is not too late to SLOW the devastation, if leaders would lead and the populace would follow - and if every word a politician speaks were not so hollow. At this point, i think the people need to lead, with our billions of voices, to force leaders to do the job of governing.

for my prompt at earthweal: The World That Might Have Been. Man, I need to find some more uplifting themes!

The Far Mountains

 


Let me play you a little tune
with my picky picky fingers
as i gaze at you with eyes
full of the past. 

I once took a high, merry heart
up into the far mountains,
laid down with my true love
in a dream that could not last.

I won't tell you how
it ended.
A clue is in my gaze,
that remembers those far mountains
and those golden summer days.

For The Sunday Muse








Friday, August 13, 2021

The To Do List We Didn't Follow

 

almanac.com

In my beautiful dream, back then,
when scientists spoke, world leaders
and populations listened.
They began the carefully legislated transition
to clean energy, reduced emissions,
sustainable logging, preservation of
all remaining old growth on the planet.
Use of bamboo and hemp was encouraged
Instead of wood to build earth-friendly homes. 

25 trees were planted

for every second growth tree they cut.

Pesticides and poisons were banned.
Laws were passed to ensure
industrial "farm" animals
were treated humanely. Small family farms
were subsidized, instead of corporations.
People shopped locally; many grew their own food.
The entire global population reduced
their meat consumption,
greatly reducing emissions.
Industry was required to pay taxes proportionate
to their profit margins. No more fricking
fracking. To gain access to resources,
corporations were required to restore
all the damaged ecosystems they had harmed.

Teams were put together
to clean all water systems.
Oil pipelines were dismantled. 
Clean water systems were developed
everywhere instead.
Laws were passed to reduce plastic
production and its use;
Inventors found new ways
to re-use plastic and rubber
for roads and infrastructure.
Grants were given for electric cars;
public transit was improved and
was available everywhere.

In time, Mother Earth drew an easy breath
and began to heal. She and humankind
worked together, because we knew
we were a part of nature, not its master.
Skies cleared; temperatures lowered;
the whole wide wonderful world turned green.
The non-human realm began to flourish once again.
All the dying stopped.
Mother Earth tries so hard to heal,
given half a chance.

This dream, this beautiful dream
makes nature spirits dance.


My prompt at earthweal on Monday contemplates The World That Might Have Been had early warnings been heeded. Sigh. This is my first take. Saving another to link on Monday. Today i can smell smoke from the wildfires. The sky is yellow grey.  The To Do list is more urgent than ever.

Monday, August 9, 2021

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE OF HOPE


Fellow traveler,
across the charred landscape 
of our broken dreams,
I bid you safe passage,
(a safe journey, a safe return,)
a door open wide
on arrival to shelter you,
cool water to drink,
sustenance
and rest.

Apocalyptic skies,
falling embers,
blowing flames,
have overtaken the road
most traveled.
See the burned-out cars
alongside the road.
See the creatures
with burned paws and hooves
limping beside us,
dead-eyed and stricken,
innocent victims of human folly.
Where are we going?
Forward, only forward
into whatever comes next.

I can only offer a blessing
for your travels.
(A safe journey, a safe return.)
May all beings find
a place of safety in which
to weather the storms ahead.
May all beings find
that welcoming door.
(A safe journey, a safe return.)


Sigh. For Brendan's wonderful topic at earthweal: TRUTH IN A WORLD ON FIRE


Saturday, August 7, 2021

Your Gypsy Heart

 


Your gypsy heart
always needed to be free,
though you gifted
a large part of it
to me.

I loved your wildness,
blessed it every day,
so when it came time
for you to go away,
when everything in you
wanted to stay,
I had to let your spirit
fly away.

They said my grief
was keeping you
tied to me,
slowing your passage 
through the spirit world.
The very hardest part of this,
for me,
was opening the door
of my heart
to allow you
to fly free.




I don't know that I ever have actually let Pup go. I couldn't. But thought I'd float the theory in this poem for The Sunday Muse.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Diminished Glory

 


Diminished glory, but glory
nevertheless, sun rising behind the hills 
on a deserted and shining shore,
waves doing what waves do and have done
eternally, the long, sandy stretch
between headlands and the Wickaninnish Inn,
from which tourists will soon flood out in droves,
leaving their $750 a night rooms
in their yellow rain gear to oh! and ah!
at this place I love so much.

I get to live here, on the margins,
like the skinny, hungry wolves and bears
that pad the edges of our village
in search of food. The bear has
an injured leg, struck by some too-fast
touring car, and left to hobble
until wildlife intervenes, one more
wild thing, snuffed out by
some rushing human,
oblivious to
the suffering being
he left behind.

But still, the heartlift, daily,
at sky, and sea and trees,
the beauty constant, even as
the village grows ever more cluttered
with condos and tourists and cars. I still
can find a forest trail,
commune with the Standing People,
breathe their deep peace.
I still can walk a wild shore,
my soul beating to the rhythm
of the tides.

One of the lucky ones, I live
immersed in nature's wonder
every day,
clinging tightly as a marsupial
to this place
and its endangered splendor.
Even as I watch the forests fall,
making way
under the human footprint's
heavy stride,
it's here, where I belong,
here where my grateful heart
and soul abide.


for Brendan at earthweal: THE ANTHROPOCENE SUBLIME, where he wants us to write of the diminished glory of the places where we live. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

How My Garden Grows

 

Roots by Frida Kahlo

If I set a fine table
and offer you
all the bounty of my garden,
will you till the soil,
let it rest,
then restore it to health
for the years to come?

When did we forget
this earth is a garden,
and what we take out,
we need to put back?
Gardens are forever,
yet we live
in a frenzied Now
on a planet
lit by flames
and flooded with despair.

I laid the table well
for you,
but you forgot to care.


for the Sunday Muse. I seem to have a one track mind these days as, where I live, Mother Earth is burning up (along with all the wild creatures), yet crazed people are roaring about on holidays as if there is no tomorrow. At this rate, I worry that there might not be. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but these are the words that came, I just wrote them down. 

Wolfsong

 


In these days of floods and fire,
hope just may be
a mother wolf and her small cubs
walking along the shore
at dusk.

As darkness settles around them,
they tip back their heads and sing:
sweet baby howls filling our hearts
with tenderness and the possibility
of a better tomorrow.


for earthweal's open link. My friend Chris lives in a floathouse up the inlet. These past few evenings, she has thrilled to the sound of these baby wolf howls, too sweet for words. We have to keep this world alive, for all the small beings, human and non-human, who deserve a future.

Monday, July 26, 2021

On Gardens

My garden taught me
how to nurture things
and watch them grow,
how roots need soft, loose soil
as, inch by inch, I carefully tend
all the seeds I sow.

With Mother Earth's garden,
we have been less than kind.
Now from our disconnected dream,
(and all our barren spirits lack),
we're waking up to find
a nightmare of floods and fire,
too late, too late
to repair the harm
and get our garden back.


for Sarah at earthweal, where we are contemplating LAMMAS, the harvesting of grain and making it into bread. We have not tended Mother Earth's garden well, and are harvesting some painful consequences. Out of this, I do still hope humanity will rise to what is required of us. 


Summer Days


In summer, my whole back yard
was a garden. Early morning, the swish-swish-swish
of the sprinkler, turning round and round,
was a sweet song of nurture,
love in every seed I sowed.
Neighbours hung over the fence and said
"The nature spirits love her.
Look how lush her garden grows!"

The garden fed my hungry children
and healed my broken heart.


   Back then, wise folk warned us
     there were poisons in our food,
pollutants in the land and sea, 
  but we were too bemused
 to comprehend,
   lulled by materialism
      into disconnection
from the earth
 in days we thought
would never end.

      (If you want to feel connected,
       sow a garden. Watch it grow,
       inch by inch and row on row.)

            The garden we planted then,
            when we were full of hope,
     and young,
           we are harvesting now,
         in floods and flames,
            our dreams a nightmare
       just begun.


for Sarah at earthweal, where we are contemplating Lammas, the harvesting of grains and turning them into bread.                                                                            
                         

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lessons the Deer Can Teach Us

 


"The opposite of extraction capitalism
is deep reciprocity."
- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, 
from As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom
Through Radical Resistance

Once, in the long ago,
the deer disappeared from the north
where the people had been
taking them wastefully, without respect.
The deer refused to participate
in this inequity any longer.
They went elsewhere
and the people grew hungry,
and then awakened.

Today I can see in indigenous eyes
that they too are intentionally withdrawing
and resisting the settler/colonial system
that has been trying to disappear them
for three hundred years.

They oberve us with blank eyes
that turn us into white ghosts.
Their opaque expression says,
"I have removed myself
from your system
of oppression, which extracts
without giving back."

I watch with respect and admiration
their strength and power rising,
hear their true words. 

Like the deer,
they are removing themselves
from the greed-crazed mamalthni,
to follow their own path
on the earth they have tended
for ten thousand years -
the earth it took we settlers
only three hundred
to destroy.


In fact, it feels like Mother Earth herself is removing herself from us in the only way she can, with storms and wildfires and floods. Rampant  capitalism set in place the destructive path that got us here, yet it will not ease its grasp upon the coffers of the world. They will cut down what trees are left after the wildfires until there will not be a bit of cooling or oxygen left on what will then be an uninhabitable planet. It is unfathomable  to me, how crazy this greed is. It is a voracious, all-consuming madness. But now the bill is coming due and who will suffer most are  the marginalized and our non-human relatives. Whales are already swimming farther out to sea in search of food, in waves that are too warm. The screams of animals in the wildfires haunt my dreams. We created of a bountiful garden a hell on earth, yet believe we are the only thinking creatures. I withdraw further into silence, watching the madness unfold.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

I Hear Their Screams In My Dreams

 


They say
near the wildfires
they can hear the screams
of the animals
dying most horrible deaths.

How many times
can my heart break
in one lifetime?

Too many times
to count.


It is too terrible to think about, the hell we have created on earth for the beyond-human realm. And yet, as a poet friend said to me today, if we turn away, who will be left to fight for them? 

Monday, July 19, 2021

WHEN I COME BACK II

 

Wild Buffalo at Standing Rock


When I come back, I'll be like
the herd of buffalo arriving
at Standing Rock, the natural world
rising up to stand with the water protecters
who are trying to save the river.

Water is life! the warriors said, praying
under a hail of rubber bullets.
They stood in the water in winter
and were not cold, because the river
was with them, against the militarized police
and the black snake that would bring death
to their people.

When I come back, I will be like
the white Spirit Bear, swimming from 
island to island in search of food.
Already, I am growing too weak to swim.
What will still be here, when I come back?

I will come back like the unsettled spirits
at Ninstints in Haida Gwaii. When you step
on shore even now,  you can hear
the keening and wailing of those
in the Spirit World, the First People
who died in distress from smallpox
brought by the colonial invaders,
only the first of their burnt offerings.

When I come back, I will rise
from a small unmarked grave,
where, long ago,  another child
was made to bury me,
under the heartless gaze
of the black robes.
When I come back, may no child
ever have to live under a gaze that cold.

Now I watch the skinny black bear
wandering, hungry, across the village green;
the thin grey wolf, loping along the shore
in search of the salmon that are no more.
I see dead whales on the beach,
stomachs full of plastic and styrofoam.
Raven and Heron and Eagle -
all of their eyes are looking at me
from the tops of trees: asking
what have you done to the world
once so abundant? 

When I come back, if I am human,
I will wear a cloak of shame and guilt.
If I am of the beyond-human realm,
I will be wary, hoping the Two-Leggeds
have either learned how to live with the earth
or have disappeared in the floods and fires,
the pandemics and calamities of our times.

When I come back, will the world
have stopped burning? Or will it
be ash and stagnant water, from which,
eons from now, a small green sprout
may one day hopefully appear?

for earthweal where we are telling it like it is without compromise, in celebration of Ingrid Wilson's new book: The Anthropocene Hymnal featuring poems by some of earthweal's poets. Yay, Ingrid!