Monday, May 31, 2021

I Always Knew

 

My kids on Knox Mountain
in Kelowna, where we often hiked.
I taught them to love all these things too.

I always knew I loved the earth, with its
smell of sage and ponderosa pine,
the rattle-snaked brown hills of my childhood
dotted with yellow blooms in springtime;
lake-scented summer mornings, sweet pea
and hollyhocks in my grandmother's garden.

I always knew I loved rivers, swirling through
rock-walled chasms, salmon leaping up
impossible stone rapids each fall, just when
the world turns orange and red and golden;
and, most of all, the sea, with its wild song,
its white-maned horses galloping in to shore,
and the ancient forest full of treed beings
I stopped under, to feel their history
and listen to what they might be
whispering to me.

Even before all that, I loved sharpening
a brand new pencil, the soft curls pungent,
falling from the sharp lead point; and crayons
to colour a world brand new, and jars
of sticky white paste. Fresh pages, and my dismay
when inevitably the sharpness of my nib,
clotted with ink, made a hole in the paper
doing writing exercises of big OOOOOO's
across the page; my fear of spilling the inkwell,
(my wonder now that it never happened.)
I remember blotters, and how my love of words
started then; I remember paper dolls with
their paper clothes, cutting so carefully; and
BOOKS! armload after armload, week after week,
a treasure trove carried home from the library
for 70 years. And I remember
how we folded paper into triangles, writing
messages on each space, putting them on our fingers,
opening and shutting them like mouths,
till you received your message, hoping it
would be good.

Now here I am, a lifetime away, remembering.
How rich life is, in seasons, in colour,
in beauty, gifting us with sunrises and sunsets,
trees and flowers, wild wolves and whales,
mountain peaks and soft yellow valleys
where deer gently circle in tall grass
to sleep through shimmering summer nights.

And stars! and bioluminescence! and devoted
doggy hearts and wagging tails! and music,
to serenade our youth and remind us,
once we're old, of how once, long ago,
(and yet in an eyeblink of time),
we dreamed. We dreamed. We dreamed.

Inspired by Things I Didn't Know I Loved by Nazim Hikmet, a Turkish poet, shared by Wild Writing's Laurie Wagner. I always knew I loved all these things so I took the positive route.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Moon, with Raven

 


After rain, I gazed into a puddle
to see my future.
There was a raven picky-toeing
around the moon.

Blue, all around her serene
silver countenance -
peace in my heart,
gazing down, gazing up
at my two moons.

I gazed into a puddle
and found my present.
There was a raven picky-toeing
around the moon.

A little something for The Sunday Muse

Loving the Trees

 

Fairy Creek - Will O'Connell photo


In the forest dark and deep,
the shaman whispered “Hush.
The trees are whispering a message
.”

"Do you hear the drum?"
I think I heard them sigh.
And on the wind, I heard
their steady beat, like the heartbeat
of the forest, tapped out gently
by forest defenders
come to save the ancient trees
from the loggers’ saws.

Emerging into a clearing,
I saw the tree people,
gentle souls, singing to the trees
with tears in their eyes.

I love the trees!” one called
as the police carried him away.
Another and another, lifted
from their place on the road,
put into vans and carried
off to jail, because they know
these trees are sacred. They know
the planet needs every old tree left.
They watch the future sliding away
so corporations can make
an extra billion.

Jobs” the government croaks, jobs
for a few more years more important
than long-term survival.

No jobs on a dead planet,”
the land defenders mourn.
In two years, or three,
the loggers will be just as unemployed,
but the last of the old trees
will be gone.
Too late then to listen for
the forest's song.

Humanity needs a dream;
we need transformation.
We need to find our way
back to the garden.

Plant trees,” the shaman said,
handing us magic seeds.
But even planting trees,
we need the old growth
still alive
in order to survive.

This was inspired by a dream Truedessa had and related to me. She describes the dream in her poem at this link. It is amazing. I wrote mine before reading hers, so mine is about my grief at the battle being waged to save Fairy Creek. The tree above is on the chopping block. Unthinkable. 

The police have exclusion zones, refusing journalists the right to film and report on what happens during the arrests. Unconstitutional. Protests are going on in many cities in B.C. but the government doesn't care, isn't listening. Jobs, jobs, jobs is all you hear. But when ALL of the forests are clearcut and the Island is bald, (we only have 2% of the old growth left), they will be just as unemployed and these ancient beings will be gone. It is breaking my heart.

One good thing. The other day, 95 seniors showed up at the blockades. The police took one look, and went away. They did not dare arrest 95 seniors with their canes and walkers. Go, seniors!



Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Sanctuary

 

Tonquin Guardian
By Christine Lowther


Kloolth aa pee,
Forest of green
on the far edge of town,
along your well-trodden paths
I walk
on hallowed ground.

Temple,
monastery,
sepulchre and tabernacle,
bird-world,
home and refuge to
All-that-is-not-us,
teach us how to be
so we
regain your trust.

Shelter, refuge,
in my need,
forest serene,
my sanctuary blessed,
it is 
to you I come,
when I
seek rest.




Sadly, friends, the arrests have begun of the forest defenders at Fairy Creek. This beauty above - a conscious being, irreplaceable - is on the cutting block. People are demonstrating. Most of B.C. believes the two per cent of old growth left should be saved. But government has deaf ears. They send in 30 police cars, giving the strong message who is going to "win" this conflict of interest.......making us all losers in the end. I am not well enough to be there. But my heart is there, singing to the trees with the land defenders.

For earthweal, where the prompt is Sanctuary. Tonquin forest is a short block away from where I live. Half of it will soon be clearcut for housing. Some of us have worked towards protection of its significant trees. We have had to accept the loss of half the forest. As long as they dont then want the other half.
 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Reasons Why My Heart is Broken

 


Fairy Creek - tree protectors, arms raised

In the power salute, singing "Earth my blood,

Fire my spirit", breaking into

Calls of support as arrestees are led away.

So few old growth left. Will we save any?


Wild salmon disappearing from the West Coast,

A calamity, caused by fish farms and pollution.

Whales and bears and wolves starving,

Looking at us with eyes that say

"You are the problem."


Horrible suffering of animals,

Wild and domestic, at the hands of humans.


Governments not working for the people,

Allowing corporations to destroy the earth.


Humans with crazed ideologies, behaving badly.

Wars. Conflicts. One sends a rocket,

The other bombs whole buildings.

Everyone suffers. Nobody wins.

Especially the children.


The transformation of consciousness 

I hoped for is happening; but 

are we transforming the wrong way?

Stay tuned. Hope is a sturdy boat

On a rocking sea. But living without it

Is unfathomable to me.


Working on my tablet, not as good as my computer. The idea for the title and this poem came from Wild Writing.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

From Cage to Butterfly

 

Art by Catrin Welz-Stein


From cage to butterfly
took approximately 40 years.
Wild Woman has always been
a slow learner.
Plus she had helpers
in the suppression of her spirit.

Soft hues gave way
to a world of
vibrant colours,
bathed in bioluminescence
one dark midnight -
an event that marked
the line that said
Before and After.

Wild Woman is in love
with the sea,
with old growth forests,
with wolves and dogs,
and she has been free
to come and go 
since she picked that last lock
and left
domestic jailers
behind.



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Inventory

 


Three tiny rooms, full of wolf pictures,
amethyst, feathers, stones and books;
one small plant with yellow blooms
brightening my desk, surrounded by stones 
that say: Gratitude, Remember, Hope, Peace
and Believe. A carved wooden wolf on
my window sill; a photo of my black wolf
staring at me as I write;

the world of online poets and poetry,
connecting me with poets all over the world,
without which I'd be lost; friends,
on the other side of the screen as we tap
our way through the pandemic we never
expected to experience;

a big window, through which
I watch the sky; eagles, starlings,
hummingbirds zipping past,
and a white wolf dog with spooky
light blue eyes, who stands on his hind legs
to peer at me through the pane,
cavorting giddily when we make
eye contact; music, which takes me back
to earlier years, years more full of dreams.
Now my years are more a harvest
than anticipation. Now life has a sameness
that is comforting to those with low energy;

a tv, which brings me news
of discord and disaster,
but also the heroism of
front line workers, and the kindness
of people towards others who
are suffering, since we're all in this
together;

books, which nightly take me on journeys
into other lives that travelled more than mine,
though while my life has not gathered many air miles,
I have travelled such a long journey
from where I started out;

poems, that chart the journey I have made,
that say I was here and tell what that was like:
bread crumbs to leave behind
for others to read once I am gone;

a computer, my connection with the world
when covid turns me into a hermit
who feels safest indoors.

An inventory, suggested by Laurie Wagner of Wild Writing.


Here / Not Here

 


Seekers journey far and wide, in search
of an Otherworld, more glorious than this,
an underwater world, perhaps,
where seals slip off their skins and become
beautiful maidens on land, but with hearts
forever bound to the sea.

(I read once that shamans know of a world
that mirrors ours, perhaps existing
upside down under our feet,
or above us in the sky, in some
unexplored dimension where only
the initiated fly.)

There is an Island of Women somewhere
that I'd like to see. I imagine a place
plentiful and green, where elves
sing softly on the forest's floor,
decisions are made in consensus,
and patriarchal rule is taught as
an aberration in history, along with
racism and war, 
concepts which can scarcely
be believed, by its citizens,
so highly evolved are they
and peace so dear.
O, we can dream, we poets,
that such a place exists, or that
we might transform ourselves
and thus create it here.

(Once I stepped onto a tiny island
in the middle of a lake, following
trails small gentle creatures' paws
and hooves had made. 
On the branch of an old tree, a perfect
hummingbird's nest, two tiny eggs
awaiting their time to come alive;
it's a wonder how such fragile life
survives.)

So when my thoughts turn to a place
of myth and mystery, and more,
I am reminded by the world before my eyes
that mystical beauty lives right here:
in forest glen, along the shore,
in clouds and sky,  on jagged mountain peaks.
Around us lies all the truth and beauty
we weary pilgrims seek.

(I look up from my desk to see an eagle 
circling heaven's floor.
I could travel all the world
and not find anything that lifted
my heart more.)

When we stand at the edge of the sea
and hear the waves' eternal song,
or pace an old growth forest
where all wild things belong,
we see the scope of what this earth could be
if humankind set our dreams
and imaginations free.


This was sparked by Brendan's wonderful essay at earthweal which is so worth reading. He bids us explore a Voyage to the Otherworld. I remind myself that, amongst all the bad news, there are heroes: front line workers trying to save lives, land defenders blockading old growth forests from being cut, people working to save wild salmon and whales. People doing what we can, where we are - which includes writing poems. I am too earthbound to want to  travel to the Otherworld. But I sure enjoyed contemplating it and reading Brendan's awesome essay.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

BIGGER THAN THE SKY



There are panthers in the forests of Mumbai.
This sets me dreaming
of a land where temples
lean towards the sky.
A poet walks in footsteps of Siddhartha
as another day on Planet Earth goes by.

There's a doctor in the refugee camps of Gaza
who lost three daughters to Israeli bombs.
He works for peace and daily crosses borders.
"I shall not hate," he says.
I shall not cease."

There's a Sky-show going on this very second!
We live in miracles, Traveler,
you and I.
Look up.
Look up!
Let's never cease our striving
to keep our vision
bigger than the Sky.


Given the recent news, with the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestine, I was reminded of this book, and the poem I wrote in 2011, after I read it.

"I Shall Not Hate - A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity" was written by Izzeldin Abuelaish. He was born and raised in the refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, educated in medicine in the US, and daily goes between his home in the Israeli-controlled Gaza Strip to work in the hospital in Israel.

He has devoted his life to medicine, and to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Three of his daughters were killed by Israeli bombs, and this man's response has won him humanitarian awards. "I Shall Not Hate" he insists. His deepest hope is that his daughters "will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Israeli and Palestine."

Sadly, we are a long ways away from peace. As long as humans see Other instead of Us, we won't make much headway.

Wild Woman is doing a lot of staring at the sky these days. Down below, it's too perplexing.

linking this at earthweal this foggy Sunday. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO DURING THE PANDEMIC

 


Walk the beach, watch the fog lift off the trees
and c̓ixʔwatsac emerge from the mist.
Sandpipers lift and swoop and move as one,
then settle on the sand for needed rest,
their little feet making busy tracks
at the edge of the sea.
We keep the dogs away.

The pace has slowed. It suits this pensioner well,
or did, until my tv, which helps get me
through the day, stopped working.
No more home reno show with my coffee.
I sit outside instead, and watch the world go by.
Sometimes it waves, and I wave back.

Now indoors is a choice between desk (work)
and chair (book). CBC Radio brings me
the news of the day, and some esoteric discussions
that make me long for my tv.

In this long time of gestation, with so much time to think,
to observe, to listen to the projections of
the accelerating climate crisis,
and to witness the dismemberment of democracy
by a crazed right wing, in this time
when we have not been in too much hurry
to notice what those in charge have been up to 
when we were too distracted to see,
it occurs to me to wonder if we might use this time
to rearrange our priorities, become more mindful,
more careful, more caring. I wonder if
we might use some of this time to unite our voices
- and our actions - to demand what matters most
to our survival: lower emissions, a switch from
fossil fuels to sustainable clean energy,
moving fish farms onto land, and stopping 
the insane clearcutting of old growth trees,
since there are so few forests left and,
last time I looked, we still needed trees
to breathe and keep Earth cool.

I wonder if we might, as global citizens, unite
in our demand for an end to all the hatred, wars, 
killing and attacks on each other, and find our way
to simple justice and equality - the only way
to ever have peace.

I meant this poem to be about the physical things
we can do to fill in the time on our hands
in this pandemic. It turns out it's about
transformation,
using this time to observe,
inwardly and outwardly, how we are living
on this beautiful planet that we love.
Perhaps, during this time of gestation,
we are unwittingly engaged 
in birthing a better world.


 Well. We live in hope. This poem was inspired by "Things To Do in Buffalo, Wyoming, While Waiting Out the Coronavirus" by David Romtvedt at Wild Writing. The italicized lines are his.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

FIERCE LOVE

 


Tlaa-Ka-chiis (Tonquin) Guardian

Tlaa-Ka-chiis (ƛaakačiis) 
Tonquin guardian,
Grandmother Cedar,
your proud spires
fork the sky.

When you and the land were young,
so many years ago,
the Nuu-chah-nulth people
walked your trails
with soft footsteps and respect.
In those days, they tell us, humans,
wild ones and trees were kin
who spoke to one another.
Salmon were plentiful; wolves
and whales and bears were fat.

High on your trunk, the marks
where women once stripped cedar
for their baskets and ceremonial hats
proclaim the long history
of the First People of this place
(the all along the water people,
at home in their Ha'houlthee.
)
They were careful; when they
peeled your bark, they did it respectfully,
thanked you, then took no more,
so you could heal.

You have witnessed many years;
the world around you has changed
greatly from the one you knew.
You of the forest talk to each other still,
but we mamalthni have forgotten
how to hear.

Small and contrite, I gaze upwards
at your majesty.
Guardian, keeper of the forest,
gateway to the beyond-human realm,
I share this green moment with you.
You breathe out; I breathe in -
fierce love, this moment of
consciousness, of connection,
of Being Tree.
I come away from you
transformed.


for my prompt at earthweal: Fierce Love

Tlaa-Ka-chiis - Tonquin - stands on the beach because the whales like to "stand up" there 
Nuu-chah nulth means all along the waters people
Ha-Hoothlee - territory
mamalthni - white people

Monday, May 10, 2021

LOVE SONG TO CLAYOQUOT SOUND II

 


Oh, wild, untamed and glorious
coastal beaches of Clayoquot Sound,
you sang your siren song for years
before I journeyed here.
Your ley lines drew me to you
and I remain here, bound
by your wild and thrilling beauty
and all the joy I've found.

When I arrived to that huge red sun
setting, your waves in endless spin,
my heart rose to meet you like a lover.
Like a lover, you took me in.
My spirit lifted like a soaring bird,
windsurfing the sky. Wild Woman
was born in that moment; she
had never flown so high.

Changing skies and old growth forests,
seabirds wheeling free, sunrises and sunsets
each a gift sent just for me,
beach dogs running wild along the sand
with happy, loopy grins - you opened your wild shores
to me and welcomed me right in.




I bless your wildish beauty in everything
I see: the gentle slopes of Wah'nah'juss
so comforting to me; Grandfather Cedar,
Tonquin Guardian, 800 years or more
you have stood guard in the forest
guarding our untrammeled shore.
Eagle, raven and heron,
wolf and whale and bear,
live close, where I can see them,
in this wild world that we share.

The universe surprised me when
it asked me to come back.
Now I have everything I need;
there is nothing that I lack:
I have grown old loving you
and the loving has been sweet.
I will walk my last years
on your sandy shores with happy feet.

I am bound here by your beauty,
held fast by the song of the sea,
my heart as grateful as it ever was
for all you've given me.



for earthweal where we are talking about the things or places for which we feel fierce love. My love affair with Clayoquot Sound has been my most joyous adventure. I have written so many poems, plus a story, about Clayoquot Sound, so  it was hard to come up with something new. I had already used up all the best words.


Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Last of the Standing People

 

"Forest Traffic!" Digital Art by Pulkit Kudiwal


We are the grandmothers
with wolf howls in our hearts,
gathering at Fairy Creek
to save the last of the Standing People
from the saws.

Can you hear our heartbreak
sorrowing on the breeze
as we watch the future
of our grandchildren
disappearing to make
a few fools rich?

The wild ones are being
dispossessed.
They plead with us for help.
We put our bodies
willingly
on the line.
If these last Old Ones fall
our great-grandchildren
will never see
the breathtaking majesty of
an old growth tree.


Friday, May 7, 2021

Changing the World

 


from The Enchanted Portal on facebook


The world needs human beings with hearts,
not people in love with power, in love with money,
for whom a peaceful sunny day in spring
will never be enough, people whose wives
and husbands and children rarely smile,
their sad eyes looking out from unhealthy bodies.

The world needs healing, not more drive,
not more development, more "Progress",
which is devastating hillsides and oceans,
wild ones and whales, gobbling the planet
faster than it can replenish itself.

The world needs we humans to do the replenishing,
to call a halt to the destruction, to get our minds
and hearts right, to feel our obligations,
to clean up the mess.

We've had a rough year. Let's be real.
On our tv screens, we are watching
a scene from the Middle Ages,
suffering beyond comprehension,
on our watch: desperation, despair,
people collapsing and dying in the streets,
being cremated en masse. Can it get any worse?
Here's the bad news; it can.

We need to change everything, we, who have
changed the way the world works for the worse.
We need to find a way to change it back.

What if I were to tell you that we humans caused
all that is going wrong on this planet?
What if I were to tell you we are the only ones
who can heal the wounds?

Inspired by Laurie Wagner's statement "The world needs human beings", which set me off on a flight of hopefulness. Because losing hope is not an option.

Blessings


 

I worry seriously about a handful of things -
the climate crisis, suffering wildlife,
multitudes dying of covid, open funeral pyres,
disappearing salmon and old growth forests -
and then I remember-
there's so much beauty among the worry:

this morning, all blue sky and picture-perfect clouds,
white-capped waves and the long empty beach,
coming home to sit in the sun with my coffee, and bask.
The cherry blossoms are all on the ground now,
and the rhodos are flowering, moss soft and green,
a fairy carpet under the trees. And the neighbour's dog,
rolling on the grass in delight, then offering me
one paw, then the other, his light blue eyes wolfish
and shining with the joy of Being Dog.

So much beauty:

salad veggies and fruit in the kitchen,
chosen with care at the CoOp, where
we all smiled through our eyes, behind our masks,
(we're in this together);
hope singing a sunshine song in my heart
with all of spring, summer and fall lying ahead,
celebrating by ordering a new orange beach hat
and orange soft soled sandals for 
all of the walking I will be doing
along the shore.

All of it - beauty, doggy smiles, the shore,
veggies, and sitting out front in the sun -
nourishes my soul, which feels heaped
and running over with blessings,
and grateful, grateful, grateful, I.


inspired by "Nourish" by Jeanette Encinias / Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. Italicized words are Jeanette's.



Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The New Normal

 


My normal day has changed.
In some ways - how happy I am being
a hermit, a homebody - it is the same.

But once, on a normal day,
I might have driven the back road
from the farm to the mall
and joined the people with glazed eyes
browsing the aisles looking for 
something to buy, nothing else
on my mind. I might have
gone through the drive-through
on the way home and bought
a frosted treat, gone happily home,
the day nicely shortened,
content to watch t.v. until supper.

Now, I am even more solitary, a hermit.
I stay in my rooms, a little too content 
to not venture out, because I feel safe in here,
and the longer I do this, the harder
it becomes to go out at all.
Out there, we walk wide circles
around each other in the street,
because the variants are gaining ground
and the vaccines are too slow.
And anti-maskers defiantly gather
to celebrate their rights at the expense 
of our safety. We all wear masks, and
I wonder how it will feel to walk around
with naked faces again. Or if we ever will.

The difference is the abnormal has become
normal. It will never have the old, happy,
taking-the-day-for-granted feeling
we had when we thought there would
always be more.

Now, when someone calls at an unusual time,
we ask "Is everything okay?"
We say "stay safe" every day, to everyone,
knowing no one, in this new world of ours,
is ever really safe: from covid, from conspiracy
theorists, from infiltrated political parties where
the white right has taken over, passing laws 
to enhance voter suppression, democracy
hanging by a thread in the land of the free
and the home of the brave.

I count what blessings I have in this new normal
because it can always get worse.
But now I look back at those unthinking,
spendthrift normal days with nostalgia.

We will never feel that safe again.


inspired byNormal Day by Mary Jean Irion / Wild Writing

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

EARTH SHAMAN II



Along the medicine path, 
leaving no footprints,
the shaman goes.
An owl on a low branch,
does not ask "who
goes there?"
He already knows.

Listen to this ancient tree.
What truths does she know
of tomorrow?
That keening you hear
is the song of Mother Earth,
in all her sorrow.

Wounded healers:
do we now have
more wounds than
we have skin?
Have we forgotten
everything struggling
so hard to live
with us
is kin?

For so long
we have been
being dreamed.
Earth begs us to awaken;
to reassure the wild world
that it will not be
forsaken.

What is the song of
a suffering earth?
Birds falling
from the sky;
whales making
their long journeys,
as they slowly starve
and die.

 Tend the wounds,
the shaman drums
within the forest deep;
on his perch the
 oracle owl warns
Don't go back to sleep.

Hurry, for our
mysterious guide
is hastening out of sight.
See how his cloak
is swirling,
in midnight's eerie
light.


Asecond riff on a shaman poem I wrote some years ago. For Brendan's challenge at earthweal: Wounded Healer: Songs of the Earth Shaman

Turkey Plates

 


They were brown, the set of plates
my mom bought for special occasions
when I was nine. They had a big turkey
in the middle of the plate, and there was
a very large platter, big enough to hold
the huge birds she would cook
at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I remember my baby sister, in her high chair,
holding a big turkey drumstick. I remember
the time my mother cooked a ham and
decorated it with pineapple tidbits
and marachino cherries, each secured
by a toothpick all over the surface.
It looked like something out of a magazine.
My mom was proud.

The table had been my father's father's.
It had two large folding leaves that we pulled up
for large gatherings, and rounded legs
we knocked our knees against all our lives.

My mother loved cooking big dinners,
but by the time the meal was on the table
she was too tired to eat them and would soon
waft away to her room and dive into
her detective magazines.

"AHHHHHHHHHH!" she would groan with pleasure
and satisfaction, sinking down on her bed. And now 
I do that, too, feeling the sweet relief of being prone,
pain and fatigue held at bay once more, till morning.


A memory, sparked by Mary's poem "How They Come Back"