West Wind

Under a warming

November sun

I earthed my bulbs

feeling a peace

that comes only

with being present

to the moment…

knowing that

the grace of early November

would soon give way

to mighty winds

and colder days.

When the western gale

whipped around the house

tearing hapless leaves

into frenzied chaos

I couldn’t help feeling

disappointed.

One month of golden

autumn days

slipping away

without a sigh…

I think of fall

as a season.

Were these flashes

of glory

illusion

after all?

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Fault – Lines

 

Earth cracks in mud

expose unwelcome truths,

the takeover of

women’s minds

by the need for power,

driven by hunger to be loved –

even by unworthy men.

 

Grief for Our Own

sinks beneath the waves

erupts as indifference,

competition,

too much sweetness,

meanness,

the need for control.

Not seeing

the Plight of Woman

as a way of life

becomes the ultimate defense

against abandonment

by the other

within ourselves.

 

It is only by combing

the ground for cracks,

that we gain access

to the truth.

 

Love for Other Women

is the force we need

to shift Death into Life.

Within the raging Fire

of Woman’s Grief lies

Authentic Hope.

And Earth Wisdom

is erupting from her

Fault -lines.

 

Will We Listen?

 

 

Working notes:

 

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours examining cracks in a river – bed to understand the story the bear tracks were telling. When I got home I felt renewed. Some important message had erupted out of the Earth ( via the Great Bear Mother) validating my personal perspective in a way that is beyond my present understanding.

 

“We are living in very dark times” one woman wrote to me today. So many women (including myself) continue to struggle with our collective women’s grief over the continued cross – cultural sanctioning of rape. This time we cannot let it go. We feel that an authentic shift is impossible unless we begin to support women in ways that have been lost to us for millennia…I think the cracked Earth was communicating this message to me yesterday.

The Compost Lizard

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(  Top picture is one taken of one of the house lizards a while back – 2nd picture is one of the house lizards sunning himself today (his mate disappears every time I go to take a picture but she’s out too), and the 3rd picture is the little compost lizard in his lair taken at noon. All are sunning themselves as I write!)

 

There is a wily sagebrush lizard

peeking out of star dry flowers

sunning himself on

brittle decaying leaves.

All but two of his

kind have disappeared

since the night freeze settled

kindly,

blackening few tender plants.

How brilliant that he

should choose such a practical

abode, a circular container

warmed by an autumn sun,

full of rotting greenery!

Assured of food from insects

for a while yet,

his eyes are narrow slits when

he slumbers, dreaming his next meal.

Imagine

the variety of bugs

who still visit this

compost heap in

wild abandon,

buzzing madly

at high noon,

oblivious to Lizard’s

canny presence in their midst!

 

It is mid October (10/18) and the mountain peaks wear snowy hats. Here in the valley we have had more rain in the last ten days than we have had all year … the first flakes swirl. The dark eyed juncos have arrived. For the last few days I have been noticing the absence of my house lizards who seem to have vanished with the heat. There are only two left out of the original 6 and these two hide behind the slat closest to the door, slipping out to sunbathe when the sun warms my adobe walls.

 

When I first met the “compost lizard” I knew he wasn’t one that lived here all summer. Earlier in the season I had a large compost lizard that moved to the south wall as it got cooler. So where did the small compost lizard come from, clever little fellow? A compost heap is a lizard heaven of sorts with all the leftovers watered routinely to keep the worms happy, and with heat trapped in a round plastic cylinder the wind is kept at bay. At noontime I go out to visit him noting his blue belly hoping that he will stay around a bit longer, perhaps fattening himself up for an intermittent winter sleep. I would like to think that he will find a safe burrow in this mountain of debris, and that we shall meet again in spring.

 

I recently read that adolescent lizards are more active in the fall, this might account for the sudden appearance of the compost lizard. I also learned that occasionally lizards will “hibernate” together… I wonder if this might be true for my two house lizards who are currently hunkered down behind the slats and the house… I will be watching to see how long they stay there.

 

Lizards are not active during winter; they enter a state of dormancy called brumation which is not the same as hibernation. With both, metabolic processes slow down but with brumation the lizards alternate dormancy with activity. They need to drink water to avoid dehydration. Lizards build up a high level of glycogen (sugar) that can be used for muscle activity. They also need less oxygen to breathe and this is a good thing because some dig holes in mud where oxygen levels are lower. Other lizards will hide underground in old burrows, in a hole in a tree or under leaves. I love knowing that my lizards will still be around even if I don’t see them!

Beloved

 

My daily prayer begins with kisses.

Rough wet tongues scrape soft skin.

My dove coos three times

coaxing up the sun.

Wiggling tails and feathered

furs fan wandering souls

waving them home.

My three most intimate companions

curled up beside me,

stretched across my feet,

soaring across the room,

remind me that the flow of Gratitude

is the River of my Life,

that Joy attracts,

Love like no other…

 

Working Notes:

I almost never write about my dearest companions because they are so deeply woven into my soul body – the warp and weft of Nature that separation does not exist. Loneliness cannot enter this sacred space unless one of us is distressed or missing…

Mexican Hat

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( you cannot tell from this picture but this newly hatched lizard is only an inch long!)

 

I have a baby

lizard who makes his home

under a Mexican hat

that sits upon

the garden wall.

When the sun

climbs high

over the cottonwood

tree

he scoots out his door

as I pass by,

vanishing

the moment

I call his name!

 

Working notes. My two house lizards are the parents of this little lizard who is presently sharing his parents general territory. When I placed the sunflower heads on the wall he immediately moved in. A perfect lizard haven, ants climb around his abode and all he has to do is wait in safety until one presents himself. Baby lizard has his breakfast delivered to his front door!

I have a special attachment to this little fellow because his parents live on the same side of the house and are allowing him to stay. Unlike his parents he is very shy. He will watch me curiously but the second I try to speak to him he disappears. Contrast this with his parents who actually follow my movements outdoors and seem to enjoy our daily conversations!

Witness

(photo taken of one of my owls)

 

It was dark

when I first heard Her

whooing overhead

bearing witness,

ushering in

the First of the

Harvest Moons.

The seasonal wheel turning towards

ripe fruit and swelling seeds.

Summer’s Bounty.

This goddess

is cloaked

in feathery mole brown splendor

a Sphinx flying

through the night.

S/he heralds the

Gift of Water

answering earnest prayers…

As ‘Changing Woman’ she brings rain

to soften cracked desert ground…

 

Hidden in a tangle of branches

Owl observes my approach…

When I pass

under the Cottonwood tree

she takes flight in silence.

lands on a snag –

luminous eyes glowing.

Fiery embers

sweeten the night.

 

Her beneficent

Presence floods me

with wonder –

Oh, I know Her well.

Love seeps through

a body punctured by holes.

Seen at last by my Beloved

I give thanks for Owl

whooo calls my name.

 

Working notes:

 

Last fall on the night of my birthday I was serenaded by three Great Horned owls conversing outside my window. In the thirty years I had lived in my cabin these owls had never visited me before. The hair stood up on my arms – an omen, I was sure. The owls felt like an embodiment of my mother for reasons I will explain in a moment. Every night after my birthday the owls whooed outside my window until I left Maine for New Mexico six weeks later.

 

The night after I arrived great horned owls began hooting. I couldn’t escape the irrational thought that the owls had followed me here. I felt confused because although I loved hearing them, each time I did I was also flooded by conflicting thoughts about my mother, and what this omen might portend…

 

When I was a child I adored my mother – the first woman I ever loved…Unfortunately, my mother didn’t seem to have much use for her daughter, though I did everything I could to please her. A gifted visual artist, my mother loved great horned owls and often drew them. I imitated her, drawing stylized images but I also feared them. The rational explanation for this feeling is, of course, that I feared my mother and equally feared her abandonment of me, so owls became associated with both a fear of women and death. This love and fear of my mother – a distant, cool, unattainable woman dominated my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. It wasn’t until mid-life that I began to separate from her emotionally. It was only then that I began to see her. I recognized that her inability to see me as a person separate from herself ran both ways with disastrous results for both of us. Betrayal characterized our relationship. We gradually became more estranged, and for the last twelve years of her life she refused to see me at all. When she died, initially, all I felt was relief.

 

It was during mid-life and long before my mother’s death that owls first came into my life. One barred owl flew into the house through a window. Others serenaded me at night. A Snowy owl flew head on almost hitting my windshield. Saw whet owls peered at me during the day and the nights were punctuated by Barred owls whooing at night. I found dead owls on the road, collected their feathers, attended a weekend with a well known Lakota -Souix Medicine Woman who wouldn’t allow me near her because I had “Owl Medicine” (for these Indigenous peoples, the presence of the owl portended certain death). Because I still associated all owls with my mother these occurrences left me with feelings of dread. However, during the next 25 years a great horned owl never appeared to me, and that was a huge relief.

 

Up until 11 months ago.

 

When a convocation of three Great Horned owls surrounded my house and started singing the night of my birthday I sensed that I was crossing a threshold and that my mother was on the other side. Their night calls thrilled me even as I struggled to deal with my fright. The owls kept up their symphony until I left Maine for New Mexico six weeks later. Amazingly, I had only been in Abiquiu one day when Great Horned owls started whooing in the cottonwood forest in the predawn hours. I couldn’t escape the uncanny feeling that the owls and maybe my mother had followed me here…

 

Because I have had intimate relationships with animals all my life I befriended the owls, taking deep pleasure out of their calls, even as I attempted to deal with my fears and reflected over what their continued presence might mean.

 

I arrived in Abiquiu in a destabilized condition not having any idea what the winter would bring, whether I would make my home here, unsure of whether to sell my house. I was moving into the last years of my life and I wanted them to count. When I look back now it is easy to see that I was in crisis but at the time the obvious escaped me. As it turned out the winter months were very difficult with me wondering if I had made a terrible mistake.

 

I was walking on air.

 

At dawn or at night owls continued to serenade me throughout the winter and spring.

 

In late May just before moving into my present home I found one owl feather outside of the east window. The owl’s feather graced the first Nicho in the house, followed by a second discovered and given to me by the builder a day or so later.

 

The first night I spent here the owls sang from the cottonwoods. A few days later I found and added three more owl feathers to the Nicho.

 

All summer I have been graced by owl presence, especially during the full moons when owls have let me see them in the predawn mornings.

 

On the morning of September 1st almost one year after hearing them for the first time, a hooting owl awakened me… Then for two weeks – Silence. I couldn’t help wondering if this was the end of the owl serenade that had begun almost one year ago…I experienced a powerful sense of loss.

 

Two nights ago I had a dream about being abandoned, a painful reoccurring theme. When I awakened I heard an owl calling insistently from the cottonwood forest. Feeling a profound sense of relief I rushed outside to listen. I was astonished and delighted when the persistent calls were answered by another adult owl who then flew across the field to join her mate. Now I listened to a conversation occurring between the two that I had never heard before. This murmuring between the two was so intimate I almost felt like I was intruding as I stood under the cottonwood listening for about 15 minutes. When the sounds ceased I looked up to see the two hidden by cottonwood leaves sitting very close together. Joy engulfed me. They were back! Yesterday morning three owls were hooting, the male sat in the cottonwood, the female and the young one hooted from the next field further away.

 

Just as I opened the door to take a twilight walk that night I heard two owls conversing nearby, found two owl feathers while walking, and then glimpsed another owl flying over my head to land in a juniper high on the mesa!

 

Reflecting upon this unusual clump of owl sightings after not hearing them for two weeks I thought again about my mother and owls, acknowledging how much I missed them both. Was it possible that as I approach old age my mother in the form of an owl was coming to witness and support me, in a way she was never able to do during her life?

 

I think the answer is yes and that that the broken thread between a mother and her daughter is being re-woven by the owls that sing to me at night.

Second Class Citizen

When he backed me

up against the tree

inching towards me

menacingly

with his big powerful car

I couldn’t believe

what was happening.

I was holding the space

for a car full of dogs

waiting to park

just behind him.

 

He got out of the car

and I said

You can’t do this

this spot is taken.

Six feet tall, he sneered

You can’t save spaces

in a parking lot.

 

I have two dogs

and they won’t allow

them in the store –

it’s too hot in the sun

I need this spot,

I tried to explain.

I have dogs too

the man replied.

Are they with you

I asked?

– Giving him

a chance to redeem

himself.

 

No. My dogs

are home.

Then you of

all people should know

how I feel.

He laughed,

his mouth twisted

into a grimace full of scorn,

tossed a golden mane

dismissing me.

Walked off

so full of himself

and his rights.

 

“You Bastard”

I cried out twice

as two employees,

both boys,

snickered enjoying

the fun at my expense.

One had the audacity

to tell me

I was troublemaking

in a public parking lot.

 

To them

a 73 year old

woman being driven

from a tree shaded space

while advocating

for animals and human decency

was nothing but a joke.

 

In the car

I cursed the man

flung poisoned arrows

his way,

knowing that nothing

would take away

the pain of knowing

that as a woman

and as an elder

I had less rights

than these arrogant

men and boys.

I am by virtue of my sex

a second class citizen

in a woman hating culture

that just won’t quit.

 

Working notes:

 

The encounter in the parking lot followed another that occurred when I tried to enter the store I have shopped in before with my two dogs. This time, barred at the entrance, I was asked if my dogs were service dogs. When I said they were I was interrogated. What was my problem? I suffer from PTSD I told them and these dogs are my support system. All this was true. “An emotional problem doesn’t classify as a reason to enter the store with animals.” What?????

 

You can be sure that if I was an ex-military man accompanied by dogs who said he suffered from PTSD no one would have barred him from the store.

 

To be singled out as a “second class citizen” twice in one day because I am a woman diminished me as a human being against my own will. Old wounds surfaced. I am full of holes that I cannot repair because lack of accountability on another’s part ensures that shame will once again attach itself to me.