Windigo

IMG_0238.JPG

(petroglyph in New Mexico that I experience as a healer – Medicine person)

 

Windigo,

the Potawami Nations call him.

Malignant,

this spirit thrives

in the Northern Woods,

within the human soul.

Hatred for self or other

hidden

under Lies.

 

Windigo, the

Potawami Nations call him.

He thrives

on greed.

Empty

He can never

Be filled.

 

Twisted,

on the outside

S/He grows crooked

on the inside

courting betrayal,

choosing to divide –

taking pleasure

from harming

those who are kind.

 

Windigo, the

Potawami Nations call him

He thrives

on greed.

Empty

He can never

Be filled.

 

He uses ‘words

as currency’ –

a poet who deceives –

illusion and delusion

are his bedmates.

He strikes in the dark –

A diamond backed rattlesnake

wearing a woman’s face.

 

Windigo, the

Potawami Nations call him

He thrives

on greed.

Empty

He can never

Be filled.

 

Innocence,

Generosity of Spirit

are cracks…

open doors

through which

he gains entrance

to consume

a human soul.

 

Windigo, the

Potawami Nations call him

He thrives

on greed.

Empty

He can never

Be filled.

 

‘Wind’igo,

an ill west wind –

even his name

tells the tale.

Deaf to Earth’s keening

Duststorms rage.

 

Windigo, the

Potawami Nations call him

He thrives

on greed.

Empty

He can never

Be filled.

 

To deal

with such a force

Windigo must be confronted,

held accountable

and the Medicine

to break the spell

is two fold –

Exposure and

Indifference.

 

 

Working notes:

 

For some Northern Indigenous peoples the Windigo is an evil spirit that poisons human hearts and steals their souls.

 

In the past two days three people have been betrayed by someone who embodies this destructive spirit. The details aren’t important but the message of how to heal oneself from this form of human evil is:

 

When we are confronted with unholy darkness we first take appropriate measures to protect ourselves. Next we confront the Windigo in whatever way is meaningful. Finally we expose rotten flesh to the heat of a rising sun and walk away

Attending to Serpents

 

IMG_1981.JPG

 

Your image haunts me.

Heartwood vanishing

Under giant drifts of

ice and snow.

My beloved

little house

that held us tight

in her weeping arms.

Kept us warm.

Our fruit trees

fed winter birds

and feeds them still.

The deer

still sleep outside

our windows,

I’m told.

Yes, log cabins

leak,

but also

dull sound –

except from

gunshot wounds.

 

When the breathing

forests disappear

Chickadees move North.

I moved South –

I thought, for sanity,

mourning that I

could not let you go.

 

Changing woman

am I.

 

Choking,

the breath

of fierce west winds

clouded my mind.

“For Sale” I quipped,

ignoring

two dreams that

instructed me

to return;

closing my heart

to you

as if I could

put a wall between us.

 

When the Toad appeared

my body knew…

“You won’t find me here

she breathed,”*

calling me home

for part of each year.

North Country

Woman am I.

 

I abandoned you,

I thought,

to survive myself.

You endured…

Loved by deer and trees

until I rewove

the thread I had broken.

We are linked

beyond space and time

not just through anguish,

astonishing beauty,

but through the

burdens we bare –

yours is visible under

heaps of black ice

and snow.

Mine less so.

 

Indigenous woman

Am I.

 

Perhaps that’s why

Persephone appears

with her diamond back

and coppery collar:

Do not refuse

to acknowledge

what you feel and know.

 

You live

in two worlds;

one lush, one a desert.

A rainbow bridge

connects the two.

He rattles his tail

as  Healer

and as a warning

that this is so.

 

Postscript:

 

 

*After the toad appeared last August I researched her and discovered to my sorrow that these western toads are functionally extinct, meaning that overall their numbers are so low that this western species will not survive.

 

The eastern toad is still extant, for how long we don’t know, but for now they still live in Maine.

 

In the hopes of drawing in any amphibian to my home here in New Mexico I created a little toad pond that will be fed from any water that falls from the Cloud People onto the roof (as well as being irrigated from below)…I am hoping some frogs or toads will breed even though I will not be here to see or hear them because I will be returning north to my little cabin for the summer. I am also hoping that the tiny ( native) green desert toads that I am waiting for will find home here too.

 

Like me, these amphibious creatures live in two worlds.

 

In the north they freeze during the winter months, and sing from ponds in late spring; their summer trilling is one of the most beautiful symphonies on Earth…

 

In the south toads spend most of the year underground, appearing only after rain to breed. During the summer they escape the sun by burrowing themselves into the ground and hop about seeking food at twilight…

 

IMG_1981.JPGAfter three years spent in Abiquiu, I have only heard a western toad call twice.

‘Ugly Pond’

IMG_0450.JPGIMG_0451.JPG

(ditch as yet not really dug from the gutter to the pond and ‘ugly pond’ trnasforming)

 

It is the second day of March, the first day (2019) our high desert has been gifted with rain. Thick clouds hung heavy over a shark gray sky this morning obscuring the sunrise, and imagining a few drops of water, I spread some wild seed on cracked bare ground and raked it in with a kind of wild hope while I was waiting for Andrew to arrive.

 

My dear young friend unloaded some river stones to ring the two baby pear trees. We also planned to use some around the “pond” after Andrew finished digging and sinking the whiskey barrel into the ground. My gratitude for Andrew runs deep. I cannot do the kind of heavy garden work I used to, and to have a friend who can and has the same sort of vision that I do about the way to work with Nature and not against her is such an astonishing gift.

 

After sinking the barrel we began to place some stones around the round mud filled depression and then I added some Chert (flint) that I had collected from Changing Woman’s Mountain. That’s when I suddenly saw it, the way the pond was supposed to look when finished. Mixing hunks of rusty red, ebony, smoke gray, pink, deep orange and luminescent pearled chert with round river stone created a kind of cascading effect around the tiny enclosure – a waterfall of stones circling (temporarily) muddy water.

 

For almost a year I have been looking at the original depression I had dug with a kind of ongoing despair – it was so ugly! Yet zillions of hummingbirds dipped down to take a drink last summer, bees loved the tiny river flowers I planted in the mud bottom, insects crawled over the cattail, lizards basked in the early morning sun, and all winter the birds choose this depression as their primary drinking place waiting until the sun warmed the skin of frozen ice turning it to water. All this activity all at the edge of ‘ugly pond’ – so who was I to say what mattered?

 

I had created this watering place last summer hoping to draw in everyone who might benefit from such a small oasis, but toads and frogs in particular because I loved and missed them so, and because almost every species is threatened with extinction. Finally, a giant western toad made an appearance last August, convincing me forever, that no matter how hideous my pond looked some kind of water filled depression belonged here.

 

Last fall I replaced the white plastic that I had lined the original depression with (as an experiment to see if my idea would work) digging out the mud, and putting in a black rubber container which turned out, if possible, to be more visually offensive than the temporary experimental plastic. I worried too about that plastic because it is a toxic substance for humans and non – human alike… any toad or frog that might bury her/himself here might absorb poison through its skin. The solution was an oak wooden barrel that I just acquired two weeks ago…

 

After Andrew left today a little rain did come, and I watched with deep pleasure the way the roof gutter spilled water into the unfinished trough that led to the pond up filling the sunken barrel, another idea whose genesis is Andrew’s very creative mind.

 

I loved the fact that rain would fill the little pond any time we had a brief shower – five minutes seems to be the new current Climate Change norm with ongoing drought (today was no exception), so every drop is more precious than ever before. Few, besides Indigenous folks know that water from the sky nourishes plants in ways that ground-water does not.

 

One thing I have learned from living here for almost three years is that every living thing is tuned into falling rain – rain that comes from the Cloud People. Trees open stomata, desert scrub turns luminous sage (if the shower lasts long enough), frogs emerge from the underworld to breed during the summer, and the birds welcome every drop for a bath with a song. I breathe in the moisture – laden air with a hunger I would have never believed possible before I came here. All of Nature knows that Water is Life but the desert’s knowledge is like no other….

 

Looking out at the half finished pond for the hundredth time I experience a profound sense of relief. It doesn’t have to be ugly, after all! I feel joy rising as I imagine toads emerging from the deep to hide in stony crevices. But mostly, I feel gratitude for this day, for ‘the little rain’, for the help I received, for the hope that comes with having a friend that understands that co creating with Nature is life sustaining for all.

The Garden Wall

IMG_0387.JPG

(one pear tree against the garden wall)

 

I wonder if

you sensed that

I was wending my heart

towards you,

hurtling through space

as we drove to Santa Fe

to bring you back

to a sheltered round?

I cringe thinking

of those I left behind –

Will they find good homes too?

Choice -making

always has consequences.

 

I chose your dwelling place.

I hope that you will thrive

under the Garden Wall.

We dug two holes

just outside

my kitchen window.

I imagined May flowering…

pure white blossoms

and teardrop fruit,

birds perched in

rose red twigs, and

dove gray wings.

 

 

The Garden Wall

keeps a merciless sun

from scorching

branches

and trunks,

peeling back tender bark.

(shriveling heartwood

is a natural crime).

The harsh west wind

cannot harm you here.

Ground water flows

feeds thirsty roots,

vibrating Light.

Delicate threads

of mycelia fan out until

you greet each other

each strand pulsing

with information and feeling.

Both of you so excited!

 

 

You will never be lonely

For you are two

Keeping Company from

‘Above and Below.’

I bent

and kissed you both –

twice, upon your arrival.

I welcomed you “home”

with words.

I gifted you

with my heart.

 

After sinking your

precious root balls

into the deep,

Earth received you both.

With joy, I felt.

As your friend

I’ll spread more

compost –

nourishing tender roots.

Water you in Love.

Invite a toad

to bury herself

under the deep shade

of your boughs.

 

Grow

straight and tall!

Spread your branches thick.

Sprout lush green leaves,

Root yourselves wide

and deep enough

to bend –

Care deeply for one another –

Be proud to be two trees

whose pears may one day

feed hungry creatures

like deer and bear,

a raven or two,

and maybe even me.

Such wondrous generosity!

 

I learned so long ago

that trees and plants

like you

thrive on being loved.

You taught me to

think like tree –

to feel,

to listen,

to see.

My fierce affection,

attention to each root,

each stem,

each branch

each trunk,

each leaf

each thorn

each bud

each flower

each seed

really does

matter.

 

Our relationship

is like no other

You feel more

than I am capable

of comprehending.

 

You are the Eldest

Beings amongst us… some

450 million years strong.

 

Rejoice!

The moon will always

be your lover

rising full and round

bouncing pearls

off your adobe canvas,

etching twining boughs in charcoal,

praising the glorious Trees

that you are.

 

Working Notes:

 

When I moved here I hungered for a garden wall to protect my dogs and me from a dark west wind, a wind that blows incessantly in spring, a poisoned wind that chokes my lungs with dust, a fierce and deadly wind that carries smoke from the fires of millions of dying trees, the wind of heartbreak.

 

After the wall was built no one liked it but the lizards and me. Every afternoon they basked contentedly in the sun, and every time I walked around the half moon the wall sparkled with flecks of mica that had been ground into adobe skin. The wall was ten feet tall with three descending steps on the south. All summer the earth beneath it stayed barren, sprouting not one seed, but that wall kept the ferocious heat at bay. The backside of it was so hot I could not put my hand on it by mid -afternoon, but oh how well it shaded the enclosure it was built for.

 

I hope one day to have a little garden on the edge of the inner curve of the Garden Wall…

 

But first I wanted a fruit tree. I began to “see” her outside my kitchen window with a few birds in her branches and imagined the bees that would feast upon spring flowers…

 

I paid close attention to the health of the apple, peach, and cherry trees I visited with around here. So many were stressed, and this upset me greatly. Eventually I spoke at length to a wise and knowledgeable woman who loves all trees as much as I do. She suggested a pear tree because pears were more resilient to heat and dry conditions and two would provide cross pollination increasing the chance for better fruit. It was then I decided on two trees, not just for better pollination but because because I knew that trees like to be planted together. Trees that are isolated are lonely, and less able to resist disease. I hoped two trees would become companions for one another.

 

Planting here generally doesn’t occur until April but my gardening friend confirmed what I suspected, that this was the time of year to plant young trees. I was determined to have them in the ground by the end of February while their roots still slept and buds lay dormant.

 

I was “high” the day I went to get them – excitement bubbling over. I couldn’t wait to meet my trees. That night I began this poem. Today is the last day of February; my two trees are in the ground, and I am finishing this writing. My poetry is the prayer.

 

Last night I remembered that the first trees I had planted in the two houses I loved had been fruit trees. Twenty – six years ago for the first time I deliberately planted an orchard of mixed fruiting trees around my cabin, creating an oasis for the wild creatures that inhabited the area… but I was younger then and could do all my own physical work…

 

Alas, I am getting older and no longer have the strength to do much gardening, so these two trees will be the only ones I plant except for a few wild Juniper seedlings.

 

I am as thrilled with these two pear trees as I once was with thirty! And the one tree that the deer devoured in my Northern home was a pear tree that I never replaced. It hurt too much to lose her especially when I remembered that the last summer she lived she offered any who asked one of her hundred pears.

 

This memory reminds me that I am always returning to the beginning.

 

With Climate Change upon us I can only hope the pears will survive. I have given my little trees the initial care, love, and protection they need – the latter thanks to the Garden Wall.