Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Lament of the Winter Witch


Keening Woman walks the winter-wilding shore,
waves galloping in like white-maned horses,
the sound and fury of their breaking
in her aged ears, a roar.

She cannot find the well of youth;
to seek it, she would feel a fool.
From beauty to hag in a single season,
would be surpassing cruel.

Instead, she dreams: Let me change into a river,
wild and rushing towards the sea. My
many-headed children
have over-wearied me.

Let me find the snowy fields 
where bears and wolves and
sweet quick foxes play.
I will watch them until my eyes close
at sunset on the very last day.

This world is so beautiful; it should have
brought us joy, if humankind was not so skilled
at seeking to destroy

the earth that is our home. I'm filled
with gratitude and sorrow,
and all my fading hopes
are for a wiser world tomorrow.

for Brendan at earthweal: The Cailleach Bheare, Witch of Winter

Monday, November 21, 2022

Tending a Difficult Garden


from dreamstime.com

Turn off the news, which is almost always bad and disheartening. The door is waiting:
walk through, out into the morning, grey with promised November rain which has been too long in coming.

See the way the leaves on the trees droop from long thirst; see the earth gazing at the sky, longing for moisture. Yet, when it comes, will it be too much, like everything – sun, wind, rain, storm, floods and fire – has been too much for so long?

Never mind. Today, we need only Be, with the air and the sky, with the soft forest trail and the waiting trees, wafting their peaceful energy towards us, wrapping us in Green, in silence, in a world out of time that is timeless, that has always been.

Remember to step softly, and not crush the mosses. Make a wide berth of the slug’s slow passage across the trail. Note the way the yellow swamp lanterns lift their heads, without a care in the world, even in this mad time we are living. Their mandate is to grow; yellow and green is all they know.

Breathe in peacefulness; breathe out gratitude, for the beauty shining all around, and for the way Mother Earth keeps gifting us sunrises, sunsets, growing things, baby creatures, even though we have forgotten how to tend our garden gently. Even though so many have done such great harm. Like every mother, she continues to give her heart and her gift of life, hoping we will tend it well, yet knowing some of us will hurt her and break her heart – and still she gives.

Here is something the trees told me: when we walk through the forest, loving them, in awe, head tipped back, they start to love us back. Even the rocks, the ferns, the salal, the winter berries are reflecting our love back to us. (How is it that only some of us know this?)

If you sing, softly, so only they and the nature spirits can hear, they smile; small birds cock their heads to listen. An owl opens her yellow eyes, then blinks. And, deeper in the bush, a wolf cub wakens in his burrow and tries out his first small baby howl.

There be spirits here – the ancestors shapeshift among the trees; the morning mist is clothed with spirit walkers. Long ago, they told us that we are meant to be here at this time, when the world stands at the brink of a major shift, uncertain which way to go. Rainbow warriors have hearts of every hue;  lovers of the earth everywhere on the planet are dreaming in green.

It may take us longer than our lifetimes and our children’s lifetimes to return to the garden, to gather around the fire and begin again with small gardens and respect. One lesson we need to learn, and to teach: when we take, we must give back, so the children’s children’s children may also live. Like the salmon dying in the dried out riverbeds still try to make their way home, we may also die along the way. But the journey matters, and others will follow. And one day this big beautiful blue-skied world will smile again.


for Brendan's prompt at earthweal: Tending a Difficult Garden, a concept that appeals to me. 

The Garden Taught Me How to Grow


I began by tending weeds, till a neighbour
taught me how to loosen the soil by weeding.
Then I learned to plant, seed by seed
and row by row: fruits and veggies,
and flowers for our delight.

Up and down the rows I crawled, pulling sprouts,
patting soil, my fat rabbit nibbling his way along
and napping near me in the rows.

Early mornings, I turned on the sprinkler:
swish-swish-swish, in a circle, thirsty plants
drinking deeply. It was a blue-sky summer.
In the evening, I would weed again, or
simply bask, gazing in gratitude
at the carrots and cucumbers, the squash
and watermelons, the huge green leaves,
marveling at so much spectacular bounty
from such small seeds.

The nature spirits smiled.
My plants grew like Findhorn cousins,
with not a weed in sight.

My garden taught me the pleasure
of sowing and its reward. My garden taught me
how much water it needed, how to help
small plants along until they grew tall,
much as my children taught me
how to mother.

It was the garden that taught me
that all of life - the interconnected cycle
of all things - is designed
with one clear mandate : to grow.

for Brendan's prompt at earthweal: Tending a Difficult Garden.

The garden we are globally tending now is difficult. Yet still, Mother Earth showers us with blessings and beauty, with growing things, with new generations of young beings. She grows in spite of us. How much better she will grow once we re-learn the ways of old and begin to live sustainably and simply, in harmony with the nature spirits. The same principles apply to gardens large and small: when we take, we must put back. Where there is damage, we must restore. During covid, we saw how the earth responded with relief and clearer skies to reduced human activity. The time is now to lower emissions to not surpass that 1.5 C target. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

This Poem is a Wild Woman


Wild Woman collage by Ella of Ella's Edge

This poem is a wild woman,
knocking down invisible inner walls,
the better to observe the sky of mind.
This poem is agitated,
the inner wild a climate of unrest
when too far away from the untamed places.
Attuned to the call of the Raven,
the howl of the wolf,
this town full of monster trucks and logging rigs
assaults her senses, she feeling
as alien as a cougar
inexplicably materializing
on a sidewalk in the middle
of this grey little industry town.

Where is her soul’s home?
Deep, deep, in the wild places
where only the creatures live.
Sorceress of the midnight moon,
follower of the shaman’s path,
she drums a primal beat
that speaks “Home! Home!”
with a stick carved from her breastbone,
chants incantations to earth, air, water, fire,
prays her spirit guides will lead her well,
back to the ocean’s roar and the forest’s
sacred, hidden trails.

While waiting, Wild Woman
makes her escape in a poem:
sings to the trees, communes
with restless spirits, ululates with owls,
flies up and away over the mountain pass
every morning, every eventide,
to where the wild things are,
always and forever, forever and always,
a lover of rainforest and ocean-song,
she knows where she belongs.

Confined, her spirit finds no rest
away from her soul’s home.
Wild Woman restlessly circles and turns,
within the inner landscape,
like a too-large dog circling a too-small bed,
trying to make what does not fit, fit,
too tight the wrappings that keep her
from flying free,
for she has always been a seeker,
now hoping to find, one last time,
what has for so long been sought.

This poem was written in 2016, following an exercise by the late poet Elizabeth Crawford, of Soul's Music, who recently passed. At that time, I was living inland, longing for the sea. Sharing with earthweal's open link.

A Wild Woman Away From the Wild


The hard part is to unsee, the poet said,
and I remember my long years of exile,
impossible to settle for a less-than life,
after experiencing the golden shore.
My every thought and prayer was
wanting more.

Back then, the town inhabited me
as I once  inhabited the town.
I lived a makeshift life,
my dreams nattering
in the corners of my mind,
just out of reach.
I was haunted by a village,
by a forest,
by a beach.

I longed for sunset,
missed the wild,
full of phantom wolves
and misty trees,
a wild woman away from the wild,
my spirit longing
to be free.

Well. I am not in a writing space this week at all, but wanted to respond to Shay's Word List. The words - inhabit, makeshift, nattering, phantom - took me back to my exile in Port Alberni, where I marked time for seventeen years until I was able to return to Tofino. I riffed off Shay's words: "The hard part is to unsee". Having once known such a golden existence, it was impossible to settle for anything less. Such gratitude that I was able to come back.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Tongues of Falling Trees


Did you know
we tremble as the saws come near?
See our branches quiver at the sound
of the big trucks rolling in.
Only the sensitive among you
know our tender hearts. Only
the animals and birds hear
our silent screams.

We shiver as that cold energy
approaches, numb souls,
killing everything without compunction,
disassociating themselves
from what they do for money.
Holding hands beneath the forest floor,
we send each other messages of farewell,
weeping sap-coloured tears
as the grappleyarders yank our sisters
out of the earth, as if they are pulling
the wisdom teeth of the planet
without novocaine.

As we who are left sway
in the sudden exposure
at the edge of a clearcut, 
can you hear
our sighs, our keening sorrow,
watching hungry bears and wolves
cross the ravaged land in search
of a new place to hide
from the Two-Leggeds;
yet they are everywhere.

We wish we could pick up our skirts
like the wild ones
and tiptoe softly away.

Did you know
that as soon as you enter the forest,
we know you are here?
We turn our ears and our welcoming branches
to those of peaceful energy. We know
who comes in fellowship, in sisterhood.
We love those of you with gentle hearts
who walk softly and reverently here.
We feel your awe, gazing up at our tall spires.
Sometimes you place your hands on our trunks;
do you feel us tremble in response?

Please tell the others
what all the wild world knows:
we cool and protect you from the blazing sun.
Please protect us.
Let your poems be
the tongues of falling trees*.
Speak for us;
please help us live,
for what you save
will save you
in return.

For my challenge at earthweal: Poems ~ The Tongues of Falling Trees, inspired by  the poem "The Trees Have No Tongues" by Fiona Tinwei Lam, Vancouver's poet laureate. *The italicized lines were inspired by the closing lines in her poem: "Let each poem be a fallen tree's tongue", which I think is just brilliant.

Monday, November 7, 2022

The Word for Wilderness is Home


As I enter the forest, I tell the tree beings
and the others who live there, I am here.
They already know; they are watching me
as I pass. The forest is draped in old man's beard;
thick moss clumps lie on trunks and branches.
Silver sun rays filter through the trees.
Mushrooms and swamp lanterns, rose hips
and salal, line the path.

High on an ancient cedar,
a strip of bark has been peeled away.
When the First People were the only ones
living here, each family was responsible
for an area of forest.
When they felled a tree for a canoe,
or removed bark for their baskets and hats,
they left that area undisturbed
for a hundred years so it
would recover.

They say, back then, the People
and animals and trees and rocks,
the whales and sea and rivers,
all spoke together,
for everything has a spirit.
The salmon were so plentiful,
you could have walked
upon their backs.

When it was necessary to hunt a whale,
the whale would appear to the young brave
in his dreams; they made a pact,
and only that whale, and no other,
could be taken.

I walk the same pathways now,
a mamalthni, in reverence,
yet some sadness, knowing
the forests, the ocean and
all the wild ones are suffering
because the dominant culture
has not yet learned how to live
upon the earth.

To the First People, there is no word
for the wild. They tell us
"The only word for wilderness
is Home."

Cox Bay ~ Warren Rudd photo

A mamalthni is a white person.

For earthweal where we are taking A Walk On the Wild Side. I am fortunate to live with wild nature all around me: ocean and forest, wolves and cougar, bears and whales. But even here, we are fighting to save what forest is left. Even here, in what was a rainforest, we now have drought through spring, summer and fall. And a million tourists come year-round, leaving few wild places for the animals to be free of us. This fall, bears are stressed and hungry, as they have been unable to put on enough fat to get them through the winter. My heart breaks for them.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Pretty Bird


"Pretty Bird, Pretty Bird,
what do you say?
Something chirpy
and cheerful
to brighten my day?"

Pretty Bird sits
on her feathery butt,
with nothing to say
and her beak snapped shut.

LOL. For Carrie, at The Sunday Muse. I am having a too-restful weekend, and the words are resting too.

Friday, November 4, 2022

DONA NOBIS PACEM - Blogblast for Peace 2022


It is time to turn the implements of war
into instruments of peace,
to till the souls of men
and bring forth a harvest
of lasting social change.

Time to till the soil,
plant forests, repair streams,
lower emissions,
heal Mother Earth
in all the places she is aching.
Time to remember
we are only one species
among all the many other beings
that share this earth with us.

Mother Earth has enough
for our need,
but not our greed.

We are all weary of war, of division, of greed, of unsustainable living and the extractive capitalism that is devastating the planet. Time for social change and hard decisions about how to live on this earth as just one of earth's many creatures. 

Thank you to Mimi Lenox for the annual Blogblast for Peace, uniting voices across the globe, all longing for a kinder world for all earthlings. 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Among Lions


With my soul among lions,
I walk the dusky chambers of my heart,
following the dreamways 
cast there, like a spell,
by the pages of my lifetime's
many books.

I tarry there, long evenings
before sleep - light softly falling,
the only sound the quiet turning
of the page. A cheetah cries in the bush,
an elephant treads heavily
to the pond to drink.

And in the amber glow of sunset,
a lion king lies down upon
the highest point of land,
where Finch-Hatton was laid to rest,
those many moons ago,
when all the Masai warriors came to dance
his farewell, and
one of the great love stories
came to an end,
yet is remembered still.

for Shay's Word List, which led me to the Africa of my dreams, experienced in the many books I have read, and movies watched, about that beloved place. My romantic heart (which survived my less-than-romantic life), loved Karen Blixen's Out of Africa. She wrote the Masai reported that lions came in the amber glow of sunset to lie on Finch-Hatton's grave in the years that followed. I Dreamed of Africa by Kiki Gallman, is another beautiful read (and movie). 


When morning breaks dark grey
outside my window, and my heart 
is quiet in the peace and safety
of my small rooms, I remember
years when I longed for a life shared,
when being alone was to be feared,
to be passed over, to be left.
It was inevitable that my soul needed
to learn aloneness. Solitude taught me
peace; the wild world taught me love.
Enraptured by sky and trees,
ocean and wolves and dogs,
I found just being was enough.

It's ten years, twenty years, later, now,
still traveling on my own by preference.
Once more, it is November. Winter storms
lie just ahead, when the pounding waves
will sing my soul into joy; the trees will dance
like dervishes in the wind, as bears
and wolves seek tunneled passages
at the base of ancient cedars
for protection from the rain. All winter,
they will dream of salmon and berries
until springtime comes again.

When morning breaks dark grey
outside my window, I remember
all this pilgrimage has taught me
that I could not have learned
any other way.

 Inspired by the poem "Ten Years Later" by David Whyte