Eventide

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(door to portal in early morning)

 

The wind is light

fluttering cottonwood hearts

as I pass the sage garden

approaching the portal.

A shady refuge facing East.

Entering the casita

a brilliant white star

burns my eyes.

I turn away –

the soft rust colored tiles

and sand walls

provide calm

contrast as I

put away utensils

in cupboards

floating above cobalt tiles.

My beloved companions

crunch kibbles

on the floor –

all of us happy

to be here

Alone.

I water thirsty plants –

As “earth mother’

I am eternally vigilant

attending to young.

A sinking sun casts

lemony shadows.

A Moon will follow.

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Retracing my steps

to the portal,

inside becomes outside.

The dogs and I

sit on her floor.

Above us rustling leaves

and hummingbirds hover…

The trees

are gilded in gold.

At Eventide.

Peace is

in the air.

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Three Old Women, Owls, and the Spirit of Place

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The Three Old Women In the distance

 

Every morning as I walk down the river path, climb prickly pear hill and enter the lower pasture that nurtures the sage garden I feel a powerful pull I am afraid to trust… I exchange greetings with the Cottonwoods, listening for fluttering heart songs. I feast my eyes on the red dirt road under the soles (souls?) of my feet, soaking in her rich crushed rock, peer at wily lizards scurrying through leaves like lightening. I bathe in the deep shade and light breezes as cottonwoods tufts drift around my legs. Although I can no longer hear the river roaring behind me I know she’s there, just beyond the willows that line the acequias… I remember the “good red road” that Indigenous people walked, the same road I am walking now from west to east. Fire and Ice are my steadfast companions.

 

Raising my eyes from the forest floor I gaze at the simple lines of a new adobe structure that seems to belong to this patch of earth. Surrounded by a few junipers, silvery Russian olives, a Squawberry bush or two, and a forest of recently battered chimiso that I have trimmed with loving attention, the stepped mud walls rise to the sky… perhaps the Cloud People will visit here. The portals are inviting me to enter the house, their cedar wood railings a pleasing contrast to textured sand walls. Lizards climb the adobe walls with ease, their delicately splayed feet finding firm purchase on nubbly mud skin.

 

Once on the porch I stare at another stand of giant cottonwoods with thick fissured trunks and branches that arch over my head. How I have come to love these trees! Whenever I walk under them I feel blessed by Tree Presence, blessed and loved.

 

In early May I scattered wildflower seeds in the holes that my neighbor dug for me. I grimly uprooted plants with injured roots, and we transplanted sacred Datura, an apple tree, and two kinds of sage. One day this man surprised me by saying “we work well together” and I realized that this was true. Was it my imagination or was peace growing between us in the space between words?

 

Each day throughout the month I continue to climb the prickly pear path, and walk through the cottonwood forest to water seedlings that generate hope for new life. I fear the coming heat. The sun burns my shoulders, and some days I feel woozy from the rapidly approaching fire of the summer solstice sun.

 

I search for more wildflowers because my neighbor has taken the time to water barren ground while I water seedlings. I am never disappointed! New green shoots appear like magic. I wonder if he knows that I appreciate his watering. I have tried to tell him, but he is not much of a receiver.

 

Scarlet gaura spiral upwards transforming rose to red; delicate white primroses seek the morning sun. I find clumps of salmon globe mallow, pull tumbleweeds as I stare across the mesa visually climbing the steps of the mountains I call the Three Old Women. Could they be my Desert Mothers too?

 

I think that in the beginning The Powers of Place first seeped into my blood through these three wise “Old Women” who live in the hills beyond the adobe house. When Place casts her spell, an ordinary view becomes the Beloved crying out – “see me, feel me, I am you and you are me” blurring edges between us…weaving mystery and magic through sight and senses, irrevocably marrying me to a piece of Earth without my knowledge, let alone understanding. Place determines the strength of our relationship not me. If this hadn’t happened to me before I wouldn’t have believed it…

 

I am afraid to Love. This bond binds me like no other to Beauty, animals, plants and people, to internal truths, to knowing what I might not want to know, to Life in all its complexity, fragility and strength, and finally to a possible homecoming after two years of wandering in the high desert without any sense of direction. This year, winter/ spring illness eclipsed my body, robbed it of will, sapped precious energy to hike or explore. Six months of soul loss leads to crushing depression and loss of hope.

 

Both the miracle of seeds growing and my attention to watering, birth a tentative hope as I open the door to loving place again. Is this piece of Earth a sanctuary where I might find friendship and peace?

 

Was it necessary to wander alone in the wilderness – to live without knowing, to mourn what was to reach this turning?

 

Of all my fears, self – delusion frightens me most of all. Could I still be desperate enough to imagine this feeling of belonging?

 

I sense not.

 

When I open the door cool rust colored tiles gently massage my feet. The walls warm me with pink sand like hues, the light is soft and inviting, yet the air is blessedly cool and sweet. An immense wooden beam slices through the slanted wood ceiling above my head. In every direction windows open to Nature’s beauty, trees, berry bushes, chimisa, mountains, red dirt, and wild grasses. Wood and mud make the finest of houses, and I have lived in both.

 

Walking towards the kitchen, cobalt tile counters shimmer like spun glass. Over the sink the Three Old Women gaze in at me through the window; our eyes lock in silent recognition. A few nights ago I smudged the rooms with sacred sage. The next morning an elk ran by my front door. An elk antler and a chert fragment had been embedded in the Northern foundational wall. Was this synchronistic occurrence a personal sign? It was tempting to think so. Nature routinely communicates with me through the appearance, disappearance, or death, of animals and plants.

 

When I picked up the owl thread on May Day I felt bewildered…

 

Discovering a great horned owl feather just beyond the east door of the new house meant something I was sure. My neighbor told me that he had been listening for owls in the evening, which seemed hopeful to me for some unknown reason.

 

As friends we had spent the last six months having star crossed encounters many rife with raw anger, and it seemed to me that it was impossible for us to amicably share this piece of land. Hadn’t our differences divided us permanently? When I spied the great horned owl feather I was surprised that he seemed as moved by it as I was. Taking it into the house, he placed it in the Nicho that faces East (where it has found a permanent home). This simple action carried a deep resonance for me although its meaning was veiled. It also reminded me that for the better part of the last eight months owls and I had been in ongoing conversation…so I digress a moment to return to the past…

 

The night of my birthday last September – I was still in Maine – a symphony of owl song brought sharp memories of my mother and I felt the usual fear and ambivalence because my mother loved great horned owls but we also had a deeply troubled relationship… Great horned owls are harbingers of death to some, birds of wisdom to others. They carry a charge that is either positive or negative in every culture and in my life as well. When this trio of owls sang just outside my window the hair on my arms prickled. A Visitation, I thought. Each night thereafter, I was serenaded by these magnificent birds who had moved into a still untouched forest for the first time in thirty years.

 

When I arrived here in November I couldn’t believe it. Great horned owls were perched in cottonwood trees around my neighbor’s house. They sang out on starry nights and heralded pre-dawn skies with me rooted to their whooing seeking out their presence on star cracked winter nights and bittersweet orange (pre-dawn) mornings. This couldn’t be coincidence. Whatever the owls portended I knew I needed to listen with careful attention … I surrendered, even found comfort in their haunting songs. I knew I was being called. Was I being warned?

 

The day I moved out of my neighbor’s house two paired owls flew over my head after hooting to one another in the cottonwood tree… I couldn’t escape the feeling that they were saying goodbye… I experienced an unbearable sadness.

 

I had a very strange dream a day or so later. A strange dis-embodied voice informed me “I am the Spirit of this Land and you shall dine with me.” I awoke with a sense of awe and mystery, believing I had been called for a third time by the Power’s of Place, this time not by Three Old Women, or Great Horned owls (old women in feathery owl capes?) but by another Voice that was clearly male.

 

This dream was followed by another in which I peer in at many diminutive fluffy owls who are sitting at a table and all of them are waving to me! I wave back jubilantly.

 

After moving into the Trailercita owls hooted infrequently and from a great distance. I missed them.

 

I didn’t fare well. This winter was hell.

 

But to return to the present…

 

In May the owls left me a feather reweaving our dormant connection, and owl presence preceded May, the month of my seeding…

 

Each spring all creatures, plants and people participate in Nature’s round – the resurrection of soul, body and spirit as the greening approaches full bloom. Our Mother adorns the Earth with bouquets of flowers… And seeds that have lain dormant for months or years burst out of moist ground… rising from the dead.

 

Will the seeds lying dormant in me grow into blossoms of fragrant flowers?

 

Will the owls finally speak in a language I can comprehend?

 

I look towards the mountains as a bat flies across a waxing full Mayflower moon… The Old Women stand steadfast in silent contemplation.

 

The future remains veiled.

Bludgeoned

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Yesterday I blundered

creating sorrow in my wake.

Opening like a flower to vulnerability

I trusted that my words would be

received with kindness and

appreciation.

Instead harsh criticism

stuck a knife through my heart.

Although his cruelty

speaks to who he is,

and not to who I am

the thorn festers

and I weep.

 

Postscript:

 

Yesterday I shared my feelings with someone who has no capacity for receiving. I knew that. Thus, this mistake was of my own making. Why did I try to bridge an unbridgeable gap? Even though I know that this man’s cruelty is more about him than me, it still didn’t change the pain I experienced as his words drew blood. One of my vulnerabilities comes out of the need to create a path to the doors that others must keep shut in order to keep their false faces intact. I have the capacity to see through that delusion – and this quality is a double – edged sword.

 

I am a self directed woman and a sensitive in depth writer – And oh, so happily, I am no longer dependent upon rigid authoritarian male criticism for a sense of worth. I don’t need this man’s approval and this is a source of the greatest joy!

 

This morning while standing at the river’s edge a female hummingbird hovered inched from my face twittering excitedly. I think she was telling me that allowing myself to be vulnerable is a gift that opens a heaped up heart to Nature’s Love that is unconditional modeling Presence and Generosity of Spirit even when people strike out to make themselves more powerful in their own arrogance, stupidity, and blindness.

 

Hummingbirds are vulnerable to freezing but they also possess amazing resilience, and can fly thousands of miles to find home. I am like that hummingbird who mirrors that endurance and strength are powerful antidotes to those who would bludgeon child-like joy.

Datura Magic

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Datura blossoms

open in late spring evenings

their pearl white trumpets

buzzing with pollinating bees…

How I long to

have my very own

leafy round bush

bursting with lavender laced flowers…

Germinating Datura seed has been

one of this year’s greatest challenges.

First I fried some

in the noon day sun

not once but twice,

Drowned others

in too damp soil.

Rabbits feasted on tender leaves

of last year’s seedling – thrice!

When I dug young plants

I severed sturdy root connections

to life giving minerals and water.

Burying broken souls in

high desert soil,

I watched them weep –

bend shriveled leaves,

felt their deep distress

and anguish

– knowing

I was the cause.

Forgive me,

I implored them.

Will my steadfast love suffice?

(It was not enough for

one blossoming passionflower…

a beloved sister for 17 years,

whose demise preceded dying in me…)

I water Datura each clear blue morning.

Compassion and love

flow through pure feeling…

Plants taught me that this

direct form of communication

honors not just plants

but all life forms.

I imagine a startling green bouquet

coming to life outside my door.

I can almost see pointed leaves

emerging out of summer mist

rising from the river

a gift from nourishing rain.

One day last week

for no apparent reason

a few Datura seeds sprouted

from the soil of one twig pot

where I had cast them

carelessly – discouraged

by this year’s seed failures.

A few days later

two green winged leaves

appeared like magic

with seed heads still attached like hats!

Now I think Datura was reminding me

of how important

it is to start from humble

Beginnings – to persist with Patience.

“Do not give up,” She informs me without words.

To cease feeling hope is human,

but I must not close the door

on what I cannot know.

Sacred Datura is a mystery plant –

Medicine from the beyond

for those who are initiated

as I was last summer

through night song,

when a single potted plant

sang through a soaking rain.

Flooded with disbelief,

awed – astonished – bewildered

I stood rooted

to her nocturnal symphony…

Later, returning to my senses,

I reflected.

The old woman in me

is as much in love with plants

as the child once was –

our bond remains unbroken.

Intimate relationship lives on

through unlikely conversations.

Some plants speak more urgently than others…

Datura and Passionflower vines

have called me into prayer

on more than one occasion.

Our roots, stems, leaves overlap –

linked in space

through intimate relationship

time flows

in both directions at once

and present is all there is.

I have spent an authentic life

creeping close to the ground

as a green and purple vine

– my belly close to home.

When entering the field of plants

four hundred fifty million years old,

I too am capable

of birthing

just as seeds

do, sprouting from

dry cracked earth.

It is by this act

of seeding new plants that

I recover my own

lost plant soul.

 

Working notes:

Spring brings on the white heat of the sun and the potential to germinate last year’s seeds. This year I have spent a lot of time trying to germinate seeds, rooting passionflower cuttings, and seeding in pots so that they can be moved and I live with the hope that some will find home in desert ground…

I am walking on air, still perched like a bird on a wire,  – too much air, fire from the sun, and not enough earth and water…

The drought drones on.

This prose arose out out my need to ground myself to the powers of place through the act of seeding in the earth, a process I began a couple of weeks ago on the land around the house in which I hope I will soon be living.

This year I am experiencing seeding and planting as an act of defiance, I think – a response to feeling so uprooted in my life. Participating in this process is also a response that ties me to the seasonal round. With the summer solstice fast approaching the days are too long, too hot, the sky too bleached, the rain doesn’t come… Seeding, rooting, transplanting, allow me to put my hope into the thirsty ground through my love for plants acknowledging my intimate relationship with them. Each day when I water my seedlings and watch as others sprout, I feel a sense of being a part of a greater whole that is always changing…

Seeds sprouting, Passionflowers climbing towards the light, and Datura struggling to adapt to new surroundings are a metaphor for my present life and also embody the miracle of new life unfolding within and without.

The common element for survival is that all, including me, must have thriving roots, adequate water, and access to Natural Light.

 

Aphrodite Rises

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After early summer rain

high desert

gifts us with sweet scent –

wet ground soaks in precious minerals

brings relief from drought,

relentless fire,

parching west wind.

For a brief moment

blazing sun star sleeps.

Long dormant,

wildflowers

rise from the dead

sprouting with tumbleweeds!

Smudged gray sky

provides a canvas

against which a multitude

of greens shiver and shine

–sage leaves are brushed by silver.

Saturated ground bleeds deep red.

An invitation to walk down

chert lined paths that are soaked

in primrose, saltbush,

bursting with crimson

cactus cups.

I can’t breath deeply enough.

Moist air is Aphrodite,

Goddess of Love and Beauty

bringing cracked Earth to life.

The gift of rain is her Grace

falling from cloud soft sky.

Watch for her as

She Rises…

Departure

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I wander along

a river path,

cross an old pasture

under a forest of cottonwoods –

a sage garden to my right.

The road turns to red dirt.

I feel a sense of peace

but only for a moment –

He spoils the day.

in rampant fury,

hacking away

roots

with a vengeance

that sends

chills

through my body.

Making the choice

for both of us,

I depart in sorrow

and self defense.

This man

who cannot speak

the truth

about what troubles him

blames me instead.

After all, I’m a woman –

A five thousand year old

patriarchal myth

rears its ugly head.

A genuine exchange

is impossible.

In this story

Reciprocity is dead.

Blessing House

In the very beginning

my friend buried

elk antler and chert,

hair from two bears

a potshard –

Black sage centered,

the others

imbedded in mud walls –

a gift made in absentia

she knew just what to do.

By marking four

cardinal directions these

sacred objects set clear intentions,

directions,

for a woman

forever bound

to Nature,

always a daughter,

no matter how old.

After I came

Red earth swelled the ground

under my feet as the straw

bricks rose one by one.

One day I buried

bear root under a bush

in a nearby wild sage garden

under a canopy of cottonwoods

with a prayer for Life.

The owls came at night

when the Great Bear

rose in the Northern sky

haunted chamisa sunrises,

resonant whoos

raised the hair

on my skin –

but I felt strange comfort too.

Owls are messengers from the Beyond.

Two hovered in bare branches,

The day I moved…

Blood turned to ice.

I thought they were saying goodbye.

After the curtain fell

I didn’t think

I would return – but today,

five months later

I am setting tenuous intentions

to inhabit this adobe structure –

re-weaving a broken willow wreath

in and out of time.

It is my earnest hope

that I can

find health,

peace for body and soul,

a sense of purpose

and belonging

within sand textured walls –

Mexican tiles tell stories

to children whose fierce colors

encourage flames and truth

without delusion or shame.

I sing to underground water

asking Avanyu to bring us rain.

When I walk under

Heart shaped cottonwoods

who bend

emerald green at first light,

I feel a sense that I am loved.

Although I feel unease

with so much open space

inside mud walls,

distrust of circumstances

beyond my control,

I take this courageous risk

wondering if moving is a challenge

to grow closer to a cosmos

hidden within my bones?

Let empty space surround me,

ask what more I might learn

from the powers of air –

especially regarding flexibility.

Can I erect the precious boundaries I need,

that will determine if I stay or go?

Will my ideas be honored by another

on whose land I live?

I am a self – directed woman

Respect requires reciprocity

not rigid rules

from one who would own…

Last week I found the owl feather

We placed her solemnly

in a cedar Nicho.

– Guardian of the east.

Owl speaks to what will be

But so far her message is veiled.

I plan desert grasses-

wildflower seeds, unearth tumbleweed,

dig Datura and Sage, sacred plants

blessing the land with power through Love.

I wait for them to speak through intoxicating scent.

Blue corn seed cast invokes the Corn Mother…

While broadcasting precious water

I chant prayers to Plant Mothers

to strengthen me in body and soul.

I cannot make this shift alone.

Yesterday I picked black sage

from the lowland just beyond the walls.

I will burn it in the house,

sanctifying each room with medicine –

Natures Grace.

Hummingbirds grace the Russian Olive

Lizards race over adobe walls,

freeze instantly in their tracks

to regard me with piercing eyes.

I converse with each turned head,

welcoming these deniziens of the desert

where wily sagebrush lizards find home.