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.

 

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…

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.

Frog Moon Meditation: Frog Woman Am I

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(Green frog in my little pond in Maine)

 

Tonight is full moon and in the northeast we call April’s full moon the “frog moon” because all the wood frogs and peepers are croaking and peeping, mating, and laying mounds of jellied eggs in vernal pools. In June, toads begin to trill laying their strings of eggs in ditches and ponds. Here in Abiquiu I am frog – less and toad –less, missing my amphibious friends mightily…

 

I associate frogs with resurrection – the awakening of Earth from her winter’s sleep – but here in the southwest this seasonal marker of spring is absent. My friend Iren tells me that there will surely be toads laying eggs down by the river’s rivulets, and last year there was a toad in her pond whose trill I recorded in late April. Around the same time I also found one dead toad on my road that someone had run over, a sight that grieved me greatly. This year – nothing. I have no way of knowing how much the drought may be affecting the appearance of toads but I know how much I miss them and long to hear just one sweet trill…

 

Last night we had a few drops of rain, just enough to moisten the ground and open a couple of bird cage primroses that hug the red earth with a tenacity that astounds me … but nary a toad song.

 

The drought drones on…

 

This year the Frog moon and May Day (only a couple of days apart) will pass without celebration because not only are toads absent, but so are most of the high desert wildflowers…

 

In myth frogs and toads are often portrayed as creatures who are shapeshifters. Thus, I usually associate a lack of clarity, understanding, or a disguised identity with these water loving amphibians who breathe through their skin and spend so much extended time underground, especially here in the southwest.

 

I notice that I too experience lack of clarity (froginess?) with respect to who I am and the direction I think I need to be taking in my life that comes with this seasonal shift that seems to be completely at odds with the Earth’s “waking up.” Each spring I have to remind myself that this state of fuzziness is part of my internal cyclic process. I live this season through my body.

 

More important I have to remember that the gift of life just is, and that there is “no way” to live beyond moving with the seasonal cycles. There is no direction home.

 

To combat the spring fog I used to take to the woodlands to search for wildflowers and frogs eggs while clearing and inspecting my flower gardens for new growth, spending each day living in the joyous moment like the birds do as they sing up each dawn while anticipating the arrival of much beloved black bears …

 

Here it is harder. I am out of synch with the season. The drought seems to have captured me internally although I begin each day at the river’s edge, giving thanks for this serpentine sea green body of water.

 

Yesterday I planted iris and two pots with seeds. Charcoaled clouds brought the hope of a soaking rain (which never came) … I awakened from an afternoon nap suddenly, having had a dream that told me I might lose my animals. Sharp images of both of my precious dogs griped me with raw fear, first for the lives of Hope and Lucy, but also because I know that dreaming about losing my animals could mean that I am losing touch with critical parts of myself. I always feel such helplessness in the face of such a message.

 

Soon I was on my way to my neighbor’s house to scatter wild grasses and seeds. Imagine my stunned shock when I was told casually that my two little Chihuahuas were eating ant poison that had been distributed around a new house without my knowledge. Because I am so vigilant with respect to my girls, they didn’t get a chance to ingest much of the poison but at 5 and 6 pounds I knew both were at risk.

 

Poison control did not reassure me. I had no choice but to wait and see… A sleepless night passed uneventfully. My little girls seem fine this morning, apparently having suffered no ill effects, but I am struck by the clarity of the dream message. My mind may be foggy, but my dreaming body is very much awake and warned me that my dogs were going to be threatened by something that hadn’t happened yet.

 

If a person doesn’t experience precognition (dreaming the future) then the possibility of it seems absurd. I, however, live in this watery place between worlds where dreams forecast reality – sometimes literally or figuratively. Often both, I never know. In this sense I am very frog or toad like inhabiting two worlds at once and crossing over from one to another through my dreaming body, through animal sightings/absences, tree conversations, or the presence/absence of earth, air, fire, and water.

 

I find it chilling that this year the frogs are coming to me with warnings. I do know that the ongoing absence of water has left me feeling more than uneasy about the future not just here in Abiquiu, but everywhere because every peep or trill speaks to the necessity of potable water for continued life on Earth.

Lily B: Messengers from the Body and Beyond

 

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Above: Lily b sunbathing while keeping a sharp eye on the hummingbirds

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Lily b snacking on plant greens

 

The night before last I had a dream that has stayed with me. My dreams rise out of my body to teach and to comfort me so I pay close attention. I had recently written tributes for two men, Lynn Rogers, bear biologist, and Rupert Sheldrake, biologist and plant physicist. Both of these men mentored me like a “father” each encouraged me to believe in myself, celebrated my original thinking and told me to trust my intuition. Writing about these mentors reminded me of my own father with whom I had a most difficult relationship…

 

I am talking to my mother (she has been dead for 13 years) about having found someone who could help me with math and stuff I can’t do because of dyslexia. In this conversation my mother is not a personal figure (when she appears as herself it usually means that I am going to face some difficulty – As an impersonal ‘great mother’ figure she is very helpful). She replies that my father wanted to teach me all these things but he just couldn’t. So many problems were in the way. I choke up weeping over this knowing (and my tears carry over into waking) because I know that “my mother” is speaking the truth. I feel such heartbreak for both my dad and for me. Neither of us had a chance… as I awaken from this dream in the middle of the night Lily b., my dove, is bellowing. He is reiterating the truth of the dream.

 

My father died suddenly from a blood infection that he acquired in the hospital after being operated on for colon cancer. The last time I saw him he smiled and called me “his girl,” an endearment he never used to describe his daughter during all the years of her life.

 

I wept.

 

The morning he died I dreamed he became a beaver.

 

A pure white dove appeared at my bird feeder and stayed for just that one day.

 

The night after my father’s death his brother, my uncle, bit into some pasta and discovered to his astonishment and disbelief that he had bitten into a tiny white stone dove that had found its way into his pasta…my uncle never recovered from this shock and placed the diminutive stone dove on his fireplace mantle and kept it there until the time of his death…It wasn’t until this writing that I remembered that my uncle loved birds and kept them as beloved pets. (Like me, he had a very difficult relationship with my father who he said threw tantrums and rages that made him impossible to be around.)

 

Birds were Messengers from the Beyond.

 

I recalled my experience in Assisi Italy (My father was Italian immigrating to this country from Rome when he was twelve years old). When white doves landed around me in a circle one morning at dawn I felt that I was being blessed by something beyond my comprehension… My life long love of wild doves soon turned into an obsession to have a dove of my own.

 

Birds were Messengers.

 

A few months after my father’s death I acquired an African Collared dove that I named Lily and re named Lily b when I discovered he was a boy. Lily b was a free flying house bird. Every morning when I wrote something important in my journal he would coo repeatedly. Because I recorded these responses of his on a daily basis it became impossible to ignore what was happening. This bird was reading my mind.

 

I began corresponding with Biologist Rupert Sheldrake who was studying telepathy in animals. Lily b’s telepathic ability became part of Rupert’s data bank. I remained bewildered – in awe that such a thing was possible until the same thing began to happen with other animals I was studying as a naturalist and I finally came to believe that the extraordinary experiences I had with animals and plants throughout my life were real.

 

Birds were Messengers.

 

Lily b became a father at three years of age and I thought I learned more about what fathering meant from this bird’s behavior than I ever had from a human up to that point. Lily b was an incredibly loving parent who fed and preened his offspring with a dedication that astounded me. And yet, when it was time for his dovelets to leave the nest, he chased them away pecking at their wings even as they fluttered around him anxiously seeking more food. He maintained a deep abiding attachment to each of his three mates throughout their lives. Yet none of these normal dove activities ever interrupted the telepathic communication that routinely occurred between this bird and myself.

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Vaguely, I associated Lily b with my father but without accompanying awareness of what this relationship actually might auger for me personally or transpersonally. Gradually after Lily b arrival I began to remember that in between the cracks of my father’s unpredictable rages throughout my childhood he demonstrated his love to us through some deeply caring actions.

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Long buried memories began to surface… My father taking me to the zoo and buying me a child’s umbrella when it rained, the day we went to the circus when he presented me with my first real lizard, the night he introduced me to ruby pomegranate seeds. He brought home metal toy birds that chirped for me when he wound them up. Whenever we went to the beach he would bury my brother and me in the sand and build elaborate sand trains with cabooses for us to play in. When I threw up or needed to go to the hospital it was my father that took me. He was the parent that read us stories at night. He fired my imagination with his fascination for the workings of the universe and the mystery of the stars. When my mother decreed that either of “his” two children needed a spanking he would dutifully come in our bedroom to discipline us after he came home from work. My brother and I stuffed books into the back of our pants so the spankings never hurt, and we thought ourselves so clever because we had outwitted our father. It never occurred to either of us that he saw through this ruse and ignored it!

 

How could I have forgotten all these stories for so long?

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Later, much later, I learned to respect my father for the way he financially provided for his family putting both his children through college (as undergraduates). He taught us not to waste resources like electricity or heat, to be financially frugal. To this day I never leave a room without turning the lights off and am happy to live in a small warm space!

 

Birds are Messengers.

 

Why did it take me so long to appreciate my father? Violence. As children we both learned that we couldn’t trust a man who took out his explosive rage on us for reasons that we could not comprehend. As adolescents my mother ridiculed her husband’s verbally abusive behavior (my father was never physically violent) and taught us by example to dismiss our father as irrelevant. And yet, she stayed in a marriage she despised, modeling to her children that raging like a madman was somehow acceptable because she put up with it too. She taught us to be non – violent but she “endured”… and my parents both saturated themselves with alcohol to fuel vicious attacks on each other that occurred on a daily basis. Dinners were a nightmare. The fact that my father was never accountable for his actions helped seal our mutual fate as children though I could never have articulated that truth because neither of my parents were self responsible when it came to their actions. Eventually my brother and I both began to hate him, becoming unconscious collaborators (along with help from our mother) collapsing the bridge to positive fathering on any level. My brother and I were orphaned.

 

The result of this breakdown was that neither of us had a positive internal father image to emulate. The consequences were catastrophic. My little brother turned that violence on himself, committing suicide after graduating from Harvard. How could an adolescent boy possibly bridge the gap from adolescence to adulthood on his own?

 

Although I survived, I married another violent man, ended up battered, divorced him, and found other vicious egregious men to take his place repeating the destructive pattern I had learned as a child. Allowing myself to be abused repeatedly as a young mother I modeled the victim becoming a mother my children despised. Every abuser needs a victim and I played the part well.

 

Violence begets violence whether we choose it or not.

 

When my oldest son was born, he had bizarre and violent tantrums, and even as a toddler he hit me and told me he hated me. I was stunned by the force of this hatred – I could feel it on a visceral level. His frightening behavior made no sense to me, and I wondered what I could have done to deserve such treatment from my own child. Was I demented? By the time Chris became an adolescent I was physically afraid of him. It would be years before the consequences of an underlying pattern of intergenerational family violence would reveal itself to me.

 

Violence begets violence (or its opposite – victim) and personal choice isn’t enough to shift the pattern.

 

When my children left home I began to cobble together the fragments of my life. With years of intensive work I eventually developed into a self – directed woman, who was for the most part, author of her own destiny. The weak spot was my children who I continued to long for, years after they had rendered me useless and invisible. “She’s nothing but a victim” is the story they continue to tell to this day…

 

One spring night, early during the process of self recovery, I was driving home in the rain. Tiny frogs and toads were hopping all across the warm wet pavement and I was paralyzed by the thought that I was not going to be able to avoid killing some of them. Pulling over to the side of the deserted country road I got out of the car feeling utterly helpless. My heart ached with misery.

 

The powerful thought sounded like a voice. ‘Look up into the sky’. Although it was raining, I did, and what I saw above me was a shattered mirror that was reassembling itself under a star cracked night. I felt as if I had been struck by lightening, and that this vision of the shattered mirror was about me rebirthing myself.

 

Frogs are Messengers too.

 

When I found the courage to get back into my car I crawled through the dark swerving every few seconds to avoid killing a frog or toad. Miraculously, I managed to get home without squashing one beloved amphibian. I reached the obvious conclusion that under normal circumstances I could not have made this 40 minute drive without incident. I had to have had help.

 

Frogs are Guardians of the Waters and Messengers too…

 

As I developed into the woman I now deeply respect, I took responsibility for my part in the chaos of my life, the victim “hood” I was born into and perpetuated albeit unconsciously. I included the importance of acknowledging the relationship between my fiery temper and my father’s rages. I struck out too on occasion; the difference between us was that when I did get angry I became paralyzed with guilt apologizing too profusely. My children interpreted my sorrowing as weakness, no doubt because I routinely took responsibility for more than my share, to the detriment of us all.

 

Learning how to let go of baggage that belonged to others was probably the most difficult challenge I faced, especially with my children. The roots of entitlement and lack of accountability characterized the lives of both of my parents and now those of my children. In time I discovered this behavior was more about them than me, separating the seeds from chafe. Today I hold my 50 (and 50 plus) year old adult children accountable for their disgraceful treatment of me, just as I held both my parents accountable for irresponsible actions that literally destroyed our family. But I am digressing from my story.

 

In my forties when it seemed that all was lost my Father opened his heart.

 

After one heated telephone exchange my father hung up on me. No surprise there. But what happened next unhinged me. This time my father (now in his sixties) called me right back and apologized for his behavior. That one apology opened the door to others, and led to a reconciliation between a father and his daughter that continues to deepen today, years after my father’s death. By that time I was more than ready to re-weave the broken connection between us but without evidence of some accountability on his part there was no way I knew of to open the door until he made this one gesture. During the last ten years of his life I got to know my father as a person and together we developed a relationship that had meaning for us both.

 

To my absolute horror I also learned that we had to communicate in secret because my mother could not tolerate the fact that my father had developed a relationship with his own daughter and he refused to cross her. My mother also told him I had plenty of money. In truth I was living below the poverty line and had my entire adult life. My dad offered us financial help, but my mother found out and that was the end of that.

 

During those last years I learned a lot about my dad’s family, how his father had beaten him, his brothers and sisters, his mother, the ugly obscene part overt violence had played out in his own life as a child, how he had tried desperately to protect his own mother and stayed loyal to her visiting her (although she rarely knew him) once a week until her death. My father had also put his brothers through college… I also came to understand the part covert violence played in the dance between my mother and father. My mother controlled through deadly silences, secrecy, and lies, fear of abandonment, perfect correlates to her husband’s irresponsible explosive rages. Silence and Rage make grotesque bedmates and both destroy relationships.

 

Today I honor my dad for his accomplishments. I can see the pattern of violence that he was unable to break, understanding that in an opposite way I too perpetuated the same cycle of violence and abuse by becoming a victim. Today I can, and have forgiven us both.

 

Most important are the deeply touching childhood memories that thanks to Lily b’s connection to the Beyond, and perhaps as part of his mission as a Bird Messenger, filtered back into my life enriching it in ways I could never have imagined. There is a sense of peace between my dad and I that literally “passes all understanding.”

 

Whenever I think of him I weep over the loss of having a father for most of my life. I know now that he cared for his daughter deeply and that brings me some comfort.

 

Lily b is still with me at twenty 27 years old, and just commented on my last sentence. It has taken me all these years to comprehend that this bird was not only a personal link between my father and me from the beginning but that Lily b carries a universal “charge” – one that embodies Peace.

 

With my father’s birthday just three days away I will be sending loving messages to him in the Great Beyond and Lily b. will transmit them. What I want most for my father is Peace, and my bird embodies that transpersonal quality so he is the bridge.

 

Lily b. also reminds me that my father and I did the best we could with a script that left us both floundering, caught in a dark net of violence,and chaos, an overreaching intergenerational family pattern that extended far beyond our comprehension. Unfortunately, this pattern has not been broken and it will continue to affect generations to come.

 

Lily b is right: My father and I really never had a chance

 

That we salvaged any relationship is something of a miracle, and Lily B orchestrated that by providing me with information and a context for reconciliation. To “re member” is to return the pieces to the whole. Lily b helped me find my way home to a father, a man I always loved but forgot I knew.

 

Birds are Messengers from the Beyond.

A Man Capable of Love

There is something about a man

who kneels to be on equal ground

to meet a five pound dog

that erases mountains of cultural baggage –

exposing male integrity

as well as a personal capacity to love.

Unconditional Love is the gift she offers him –

The ultimate gift of Hope.

He is the Receiver.

The two are One.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Her name is Hope.

She is so anxious

to make him her friend

that she wiggles uncontrollably

her eyes are dark all seeing pools,

her body knows…

She cannot be fooled.

A rough tongue laps his face

when he picks her up

to hold tenderly against his chest.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

I witness this exchange

choking back tears in my throat

with a sense of wonder.

I experience inexplicable gratitude

towards him.

His name is David.

 

He is a man

who is capable of Love.

 

Men like this can break through

the wall

that the inequalities of gender

have erected over millennia.

Barriers that separate humans from each other,

from animals and plants,

from this precious Earth

can be erased in an instant

by compassionate behavior,

opening the door to equality.

 

Men who have the courage

to be fully human

engender my deepest respect,

even as they become models

for others to emulate.

 

 

David is a man

who is capable of Love.

Stories the Stones Tell

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Metate

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The potshard in the center seems to have a “face”… although I bring some of these artifacts home for closer inspection it is part of my spiritual practice to return them to the land.

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Mano

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Avanyu, spirit of the waters

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The storied land

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Another view of the stones that tell stories.

 

A couple of days ago I was climbing a mesa with my friend Iren who is “a guide to the wild places” – those places off the beaten track where stories are told by the stones and the Earth that supports them.

 

As a severely directionally dyslexic person who cannot tell her left from right navigating this hidden world would be impossible without Iren’s deep knowledge of this land, her expertise, her extraordinary sensitivity and her love for Nature. No words can ever express my gratitude for this friendship without which I would feel bereft.

 

As we climbed through mountains of human garbage and four wheeler tracks we discovered potsherds at our feet. Picking up the predominantly black and white pieces for inspection I found myself wondering about the women (and children) who gathered the clay, shaped it into pots, and fired the vessels to store food. There are so many untold women’s stories hidden in these clay fragments…

 

Female scholarship (see Marija Gimbutas, Buffie Johnson, and more recently women scholars like Helen Hye Sook Hwang, Susan Hawthorne, and Carol Christ’s tireless research in women’s prehistory to mention just a few – reminds us that women have been fashioning clay vessels and sculptures for millennia. The imprint of women’s hand prints can be seen on Neolithic goddess sculptures and pots throughout the world.

 

Here in Abiquiu and the surrounding high desert I wonder what specific activities these women might have been engaged in. We found a plethora of the black and white fragmented clay pots (some with very thick rims) of Indigenous Anasazi peoples who preceded later Pueblo cultures. I am especially drawn to the black and white shards that seem to have faces or are tree -like; Iren loves the pieces that look like ladders. Occasionally I spot a potshard made from red or micacious clay, a relic from later Indigenous inhabitants of this area. I wondered if the women ground these ancient artifacts into temper to strengthen the newer clay they dug and shaped into vessels for firing.

 

We studied the landscape around us for more clues to its original inhabitants. Iren spotted a petroglyph pecked into the rock. Avanyu, the Tewa Pueblo serpent, spirit of the waters, also lives here. We were overlooking a stunning valley with interlocking arroyos and even in drought we could see evidence of underground water seeping to the surface, dampening desert sand. I wondered if there were hidden springs somewhere on the mesa. There were so many potsherds that I speculated… Were some clay vessels actually made here, or more likely, maybe this was simply another very large self sustaining Indigenous Pueblo community… On this hill there were also many volcanic boulders, some appeared to have been deliberately placed in a circle…

 

Even more fascinating were the stones that were smoothed and hollowed out by women grinding foodstuffs into flour. I was surprised to see so many of these in one relatively small area indicating that many women (and children) congregated in this one place. These worked stones are called Metates that were and are still used by some Indigenous women to grind seeds, grains, maize into flour to be used in cooking. Some are portable; these were not.

 

The most unusual feature of these rocks is that there were a number of different sized hollowed out depressions in a single stone. I have a portable metate with three depressions on its upper surface, and Iren has some with depressions that I believe were used to grind lime treated maize during food preparation. But these particular grinding stones not only had hollowed out spaces in the upper surface of the rock but along the sides as well.

 

Researching possibilities for why this might be so I learned that some immovable metates were used to grind acorns and plant materials of different sizes for medicinal uses on the actual sites where the plants/trees thrived. Since women were also responsible for medicinal healing I guessed that at one time there were roots and herbs that were found here and pulverized into health remedies. Since grinding acorns created small pockets that looked like dimples in the rocks, and we saw a number of these small holes I wondered if at one time oak forests were abundant here. But of course my all of my perceptions are pure speculation because only the land holds the truth of the story.

 

I spied a suspiciously round volcanic stone and immediately intuited with excitement that I had picked up a mano, the word used to describe the kind of stone that might be used to grind up plant material. I found one many years ago in Tucson, and when I took it to the park’s wildlife center, they confirmed that I had discovered this tool beside one of the arroyos I walked regularly. About a half a mile back I had seen a metate situated on the edge of the arroyo and imagined the women gazing into the talking waters as they worked…

 

As Iren and I wandered over this particular landscape I had the same powerful feeling that I had when I came here with her the first time – namely that the Earth was attempting to communicate the story of her earlier inhabitants, to us, and perhaps to anyone with eyes to see and ears to listen.

 

So perhaps my speculations are grounded in the wisdom of Powers of Place that intersect with ordinary time. Stillness, simple questions, and keen attention to the land seem to allow ancient truths to surface through Earth’s body educating those who choose to listen about the lives of the women who lived and worked here so long ago.

Edge Places

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In the pre-dawn sky

I meet myself

at the river’s edge,

breathing into the promise

of a new day.

The sky is Nature’s painting.

Salmon and pink, bruised plum

Smudged charcol blue gray clouds…

The golden eye of the rising sun

shatters the moment…

My gaze turns inward.

Within the hour

the white glare of this star

will insist that I turn away.

Love songs break the silence.

Birds begin animated conversation

from bud swelled trees.

The waters of the rising river

and unfurling globe willow greens

become the mirror

in which I witness paradox.

Nature repeats Her Story of Becoming

with each new day,

Yet She is also always changing colors,

so why not me?

 

Working notes:

 

I wrote this poem after my daily pre-dawn walk to the now rising rushing waters of Red Willow river to witness the coming of dawn. This practice centers me, offering me a moment for gratitude, although it often raises urgent questions… Lately my energy level has been so low due to passing (I hope) illness that I find myself out of step with the burgeoning of spring.

 

And yet, I also know that this is part of a yearly cycle of descent that I make. It is apparently necessary for me to pass through this dark door, a gateway that separates me from the joy of this seasonal return of the sun each spring, in part due to the strain of the brilliance of the spring sun puts on my very sensitive aging eyes.

 

In truth I thrive in the edge places.