Midsummer Eve

 

It sounds so appealing

a time of revelry,

crackling bonfires,

staying up all night

to witness the dawn.

Why do we celebrate

this longest day

of the year

as if endless hours

of daylight

and a scorching

sun star encompass

a gift of unparalleled grace?

 

I miss the shadows

that define sharp edges,

reveal form and depth,

of flat mesas, mountains,

deep blue sky,

clouds that hold promise

of muted gray and soaking rains.

 

Too much light

bleaches the earth

of her vibrancy, washing

out sage and emerald green.

Red dirt turns dull brown

as wildflowers wither.

Streams and rivers

surrender their souls

as precious moisture

rises.

Wily lizards scurry

for cover

under the fierce heat

of this unrelenting white star.

The birds stop singing by noon.

 

Too much light

ushers in self

and other destruction

encouraging frantic action –

noise that shatters.

Unhinging

“being” from doing,

destroying quiet moments

for thoughtful reflection.

The summer solstice sun can be

a delusional veil

that separates us

from ourselves.

 

I look forward

to the day after this turning

with profound relief,

because even though

summer’s harsh light will

linger well into August

and the heat will drone on

the sun is slowly losing

his fearsome power

creating space

for blue-green turquoise and golden skies.

In the shelter of the coming days

of longer shadows,

illuminated by reflective Light,

She will rise again with her Moon.

 

Working notes: I am always struck by the fierce energies that define this time of year – too long days – too much heat. Personally I have headaches and trouble sleeping and often feel irritable. It is well documented that violence escalates in the heat and noise certainly intensifies. I am struck too by our culture’s need – or obsession with light –  particularly the powers of the sun. Mythologically the the solar power of the sun is most often associated with the male powers of procreation, and power in general.

In other cultures the sun and moon are usually depicted as belonging together. Just as the sun is seen as a masculine power, the moon is perceived to be feminine in nature. – Each has a specific realm of influence, and together they are perceived as one whole.

At the risk of being accused of binary splitting I take the position that western culture is out of balance and we demonstrate that imbalance with our obsession with light that often manifests as our obsessive need for sun.

(This is the time of greening and without the powers of the sun and its heat the crops would not grow and Earth and her creatures and trees would not be able to survive – so I am not suggesting that the sun is lacking in importance)

And yet, the summer solstice sun is still an extreme event just like the lack of light is at winter solstice. I think that it is important to recognize that these extremes are part of Nature but their effects are temporary.

When the sun is highest in the sky, our star casts no shadow and this should be a warning to us all.

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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.

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.

 

This Tree is Bent Too Low

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A long and winding road…

 

I see an old woman

in the mirror

and think of the troubled years

I spent mothering children

who keep the fires of blame

fanned through mid life.

 

 

They will not change now.

 

 

Indifferent

or hostile, both are

still stuck in “mother hate”

endemic to a culture

that judges women

unworthy.

 

They will not change now.

 

That I did the best I could

running on empty

wasn’t good enough.

Past and present meet

an ever dimming future.

 

They will not change now.

 

All that’s left is to accept what is –

 

They will not change now.

 

 

 

Working notes:

 

Another Mother’s Day dawns – last night raccoons dug up my seeds – uprooting the dead along with tender roots. Will I bother to replant? Or will I leave hope untended?

 

I think of the young mothers who, like me, were children having children (in part) to be loved?

 

Yet how tenderly we cared for these “seeds of becoming” that grew from our bodies, in spite of mistakes and shortcomings.

 

We loved fiercely and were turned away…

 

I also think of the global slaughter of trees…

Burial in Indian Country

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A small skull

was in the bag

we carried down the mountain –

the body severed

from its head –

“forgotten”

and left behind.

No, I cry wounded

beyond comprehension,

insisting we return

the parts to the whole

if only for burial.

We climbed the mountain

three times in all

my reluctant partner

choosing trance and lead.

I claimed the body,

wept for what could have been,

mourned the dead –

in Indian country…

 

Working notes:

 

Sometimes it is necessary to put skin and bones, by way of words, on a dream that is too disturbing to put aside.

 

The severing of our heads from our bodies is the root of the split that allows us to continue to survive in modern culture. We intellectualize, rationalize, use logic, embrace denial – anything to gain distance from the one whose loss we mourn – albeit unconsciously – the death of our sensing, feeling, body – the wild animal within us – the one who has access to the compassionate, loving self – the bridge to our own survival and that of the planet upon which we depend upon for life.

Four Worlds

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Above: a Kaye

 

They came from

Life giving Waters,

emerging from a Lake

at the Beginning of time.

Avanyu –

Serpent,

Spirit of the River

pecked into stone

or painted

on canyon walls

embodies their story.

 

The Tewa settled above

the Great River Banks.

Roaring water flowed

through tributaries

mountain gorges.

The People gave thanks.

Water meant Life.

Each village was the center

of the Tewa’s First world.

 

Bound together by

Women who tended

holy household shrines,

prayed for rain,

created fires,

gathered seed,

ground food,

grew babies,

dug clay to shape

earthen pots.

This was the Second world

of the Tewa.

 

In the hills the men

hunted animals

for food and skins.

Both women and men

ploughed fields,

cultivating maize

as the Corn Mother

blessed them and

instructed them to do.

 

Here too were Kayes

Basalt stones shaped by

mortar and cupules

that marked

cardinal directions,

and burial middens.

Tewa communed with the dead.

Ancestors traversed Four Worlds

before returning to still waters.

 

The men danced prayers

bore holes in stone faces.

The women pounded

rock to awaken

the spirits at sunrise –

prepared medicines

and prayers in

this Third world

of the Tewa.

 

Far beyond the hills,

the men prayed for rain…

Four sacred mountains

held each village

in Earth’s peaceful embrace.

Earth, wind, fire and water,

North, east, south and west –

Four elements and directions

guided the People

in this Fourth world

of the Tewa.

 

Postscript:

 

This poem was written as a result of visiting a few of the pueblo ruins in this area, reflecting upon the meaning behind what I experienced especially with respect to the stones I encountered, going to the Pueblo dances, and before doing some research on the stones about which I knew nothing.

 

Kayes, the Tewa word for certain basalt stones helped me to enter the world of the Tewa on a deeper level when I discovered that their primary purpose was to help the people communicate with the spirit world… According to the Tewa the Kayes were places where offerings were made and the rock itself was also pounded to attract the attention of the spirits. The resulting, usually round, depressions are called cupules by anthropologists and they can be found on both the top and sides of certain rocks around the ruins. Sometimes these stones also had mortars for grinding and some sources suggest that women gathered in these places to prepare medicines. It is said that at certain times of the year the Tewa continue to gather at these stones for ceremony.