Too Young to Know

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In this late summer season of baiting

the unwary,

where can a little bear go

to be safe from human predation?

He must travel to find his territory.

 

This question haunts me

even as I imagine Bb

combing sweet blue berries

with curved claw and paw

on a speckled granite mountain slope.

 

The young are too trusting.

 

Survival drives all bears to

bait sites where men with guns

wait, hiding like cowards

inside huts camouflaged in dull green.

One explosive blue flash

And white death claims another innocent body –

 

The Spirit of Nature keens

at the mindless loss

of one of her own

as I do, imagining.

 

The young are too trusting.

 

But it is also true that few wild

creatures young or old

have learned the ways

of man and his obsessive need to kill

if not a bear, then a hapless turkey, elk,

red fawn, or antlered deer.

All this slaughter for bone, skin, or roaring head

stuck on someone’s wall.

 

Nature provides a safe haven

for those fortunate to live

within her forested embrace, but

the trees are dying from disease

and relentless human logging.

Great holes rip

open the sky,

the sun beats down

turning to tinder,

damp ground

where mushrooms once grew

in abundance…

Fires burn out of control.

The forest is disappearing

even as the mist rises

out of this once peaceful mountain valley…

 

 

The young are too trusting to know.

The Woman Who Respects Herself…

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The Woman Who Respects Herself:

(A Tribute to Bears, Women, and the Men who love them)

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself

has learned how to Love.

 

She stands up for the Hunted,

the Abused,

for Herself,

no matter how steep the personal cost.

 

The invisible are real to her –

animals, trees, and people.

They call themselves the Anawim –

“the forgotten ones.”

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself

has learned how to Love.

 

She has not accomplished this act alone.

She was mirrored by animals, plants, and people

who saw her as she was,

and did not despise vulnerability.

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself.

has learned how to Love.

 

Bears first taught her about Trust,

how fragile the connection

between self and other remains,

dependent upon respect for Difference,

Mutuality in relationship,

the Gift of being Seen.

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself.

has learned how to Love.

 

Even now He comes,

Medicine Bear, Healer, Friend,

denizen of the forest

slipping through a veil

of emerald green.

 

Thanks to Him –

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself.

has learned how to Love.

 

Yet fear grips her heart

for a mangled paw

and a blood spattered head –

death strikes in a can.

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself.

has learned how to Love.

 

Yet she cannot help Him.

 

Even a Medicine Bear cannot protect

his fierce attachment to Body –

to Survival.

 

Few recognize that the Spirit of All Life

is snuffed out in these multiple acts

of mindless violence.

 

The Woman Who Respects Herself

Has learned how to Love.

 

Keening, she cries out in protest

of murderous men.

Those who would slaughter

the innocent –

women, men, and bears.

 

This Woman Who Respects Herself

has learned how to Love…

 

Postscript:

 

There is a lot happening here in this poem. On one level it speaks to the Power of Love to shift personal awareness. The poem alludes to a personal story of how this woman was taught by a bear how to love and respect herself by interacting with some over a period of many years. Some people also helped and they know who they are…

 

The poem also addresses the issue of relatedness because what we do to these animals we do to ourselves. Every single time we snuff out an innocent life we also slaughter the Spirit of Life on this planet.

 

By writing this poem I am also protesting the slaughter of bears in Maine. This egregious practice of bear butchery begins on July 29 and extends to November 25th, and black bears (who are prey animals that co- evolved into their present state with trees during the last ice age) and who are generally shy and reclusive by nature are cast as the Demonic Killer Bear by men who project their own fear, violence, and hatred onto these animals and then massacre them without mercy.

 

Bear baiting involves baiting a bear in the woods when s/he is most vulnerable. Bears are simply shot with their heads in a can while eating. Females “tree” their first year cubs before entering a bait site. The black bear depends upon berries for caloric value and this year the berry crops are failing so the bears are more desperate than usual, needing to put on enough fat in order to survive hibernation. They will eat anything with fat in it and are usually baited with donuts. Worse, the young males are seeking new territories, and so these youngsters are the most vulnerable of all. Most of the bears killed are these yearlings, bears weighing less than 100 pounds.

 

Bear hounding pits dogs against bears (the two species are related) and hounds chase the unfortunate victims until they are exhausted, separating mothers from cubs and often killing them (in Maine almost as many females as males are murdered). First year cubs will perish without parental care.

 

Bear trapping is illegal in every state except Maine. Bears sometimes gnaw their paws off to get free of these steel snare traps and then starve to death because they can no longer walk or protect themselves. Bears are eventually shot by the trapper, who might not check his lines more than once a week. The pain for the trapped, starving bear is unbearable.

 

In Maine a bear can also be shot at any time “if s/he is considered a threat” which means that any bear that is passing by through someone’s backyard can be annihilated without consequences. Bears have no rights.

 

It is true that one in about a million bears does become a predator of man, so occasionally the tables are turned, but not often enough to suit me.

Moon Tide

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What is it about the moon

that calls me to Love

as she slides under a sea

of dark clouds?

 

Last night I gazed

into a deep midnight sky.

Someone I love

floated by on wings

made of air that

shrouded her pale face…

 

Moon honors both love and grief

in equal measure

without judgment.

Grave colors –

crimson, white, to black.

 

Is it any wonder

I feel her luminous presence

as a loving force

that binds me to others

living or dead?

 

Moon is an embodiment –

 

Lovers’ prayers incarnate in

translucent white light.

The Gift of July

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Thick moist heat bathes

The night in crimson,

Drives bears deep

into sphagnum bogs to dream.

 

Fireflies drift through

Sweet wet grass.

Hidden under leafy branches,

Grey tree frogs trill.

 

Blood red cardinals whistle love songs,

teach offspring to chirp

sharp staccato rounds

at the threshold of dawn…

 

Rainbow light filters

through crystals formed by dew…

 

Kingfisher’s absence

won’t be missed

by transforming toads,

but the drought may crack

the vernal pool too soon

for lungs to form.

 

The doe grazes outside my window

under a blistering noon day star.

Chomping down wild rose thorns,

red deer shred supple grape leaves,

nip bee balm for after dinner mint!

 

Gray foxes feast on treats I leave

beneath heavily perfumed pines.

Grapes, old cranberries, apples,

hunks of fat and bone marrow – perhaps

a carcass entices them in.

 

When mountains fade under clouds

of thick fog Our Lady ascends,

her nimbus shrouded in pearl-

like mist. One night soon she’ll

sing up the Toad Moon.

 

A wave of gratitude swells and breaks.

An emerald sea is moving through me.

Water and air create a symphony –

Breath deep and listen!

The Soul of Nature sounds a joyous hum.

 

Working notes:

I wrote this poem early last July during the terrible drought of 2016 here at my “home” in Maine. I was trying to concentrate on the more positive aspects around the drought  which distressed me so deeply. Not hearing the kingfisher’s cries, the shrinking pools, a brook so low I couldn’t hear her soothing sound, the scarcity of toads – I could go on and on here – left me feeling so helpless – so profoundly depressed. When I returned from Abiquiu, New Mexico a week ago after being away for 11 months I was struck by lines of this poem because the weather conditions in Maine had been totally reversed in one year. We arrived and spent the first week under monsoon conditions with almost continuous rain, lovely wet fog rising off the mountains, and extremely cool temperatures for ‘almost’ July. Kingfisher is back and toads and frogs are abundant, breathing in lovely moist air. My skin feels like velvet.

Flowers are bent double under silvery sheets of rain. I still have lemon lilies. My water barrels are full. Whenever rain falls I feel blessed – here or there – because water is life. The thunderstorm last night reminded me of the heavy rains that punctuated most late afternoons last August in Abiquiu while I was still living on the hill…Here a canopy of green shelters the house from the fiery sun even when it breaks through the clouds as it did this morning when I took the pictures that precede last year’s poem. The thick heavy morning air is still…and a young bear is eating wild strawberries.

In New Mexico the relentless heat drones on although yesterday my friend Iren wrote that two tenths of an inch of rain fell in Abiquiu. Any amount counts and I hope those few raindrops are a precursor of a healthy monsoon season to come. I feel a great thirst whenever I think about that beloved high desert, now another “home” place in my heart.

That global warming is a reality is obvious to anyone who pays attention to Nature’s  Warning Voice but it doesn’t change how heartbreaking it is to live through these  terrible extremes.

Next Month I Will Be Gone

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Next Month I will be Gone

 

I called her the Fire Moon

rising burnt orange

over cottonwoods

whose heart shaped leaves

rustled in  harmony.

 

Next month I will be gone.

 

Subdued, I watched

the moon in silence,

feeling my body

pulling me earthward

heaving with sorrow.

 

Next month I will be gone.

 

I watched her

become a luminous white pearl

As she climbed

high in the sky.

I bow to her will:

The cycles of change.

 

Next month I will be gone.

 

A single hummingbird

landed on a tree branch

under our white moon blossom

marking the moment.

 

Next month I will be gone.