Attending to Serpents

 

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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.

The Last Winter Moon

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( almost full Big Bear Moon)

 

A pale white coat

drifts across the scrub

snow asters –

starry clusters

cover the ground –

last years skeletal flowers

become cups

for melting water.

 

The last winter moon

is rising high

over the cottonwoods

a hallowed ring at Four.

 

The Big Bear Moon

takes flight while my

constellation is obscured –

his end star dipping

below the horizon.

 

This seasonal shift

from winter to spring

brings hard light

and days of steel blue.

 

I try to adjust

to a heavy heart

that beats too fast,

sinks beneath

a caul at midnight *.

 

The birth of spring

opens a door

to yearning and loss –

cyclic ancestral story.

 

Too soon

a fierce west

wind will howl

and a wall of

unbearable heat

will force

me to flee.

 

Sandhill cranes fly

over treacherous waters

just as I must.

 

Guns become neighbors.

 

This forward procession

a step backwards for me –

preceding my own

voyage upon stormy seas

to reach a safe harbor

of woods and ponds –

donning the skin –

of the

North Country Woman

I once thought

I left behind…

 

( *the rippling voices of a family of cranes floats through mud walls as I write the word “midnight” – I believe they will help though I don’t yet know how)

 

Working notes:

 

My beloved cranes are leaving… (their collective whirring, rilling, cries interrupted this writing beginning with the word ‘midnight’ and continue as I pause to wait for the right words to form)

 

This last moon of winter is one of transition, a yearly cycle repeats as Persephone rises (for me Persephone works in reverse – my descent occurs during the spring). For those that don’t know the story, Persephone was a Greek Goddess that was raped by the god Hades and forced into the Underworld during the fall of the year. Some say she returns in the spring as  a yellow crocus …

 

The rising of the Big Bear moon and the migrating Sandhill cranes speak clearly to the change of seasons, bringing me closer to the day I must leave too – breaking (open) my heart.

 

Living in Abiquiu has been a revelation… I have fallen in love with my favorite two seasons – fall and winter – for the second time in my life. Being here has removed the fears that overtook me during the last ten years or so that I lived year round in Maine, destroying my joy in fall (certain death of beloved bears and other animals due to hunting) and winter (fear that I could no longer take care of myself).

 

Loneliness was also a constant until I moved to Abiquiu; Here I feel loved, not just by the home -land upon which I am graced to live but because of people.

 

For the Big Bear Moon my hopeful intention is to be able to live fully in the moment so that when I do leave later in the spring I won’t have missed one precious day.