Friday, 10 April 2015

a haiku walk along the river

An old universe
rises on a blade of grass--
a droplet of dew.

How does the river
hold the trees, the sky, and me?
I will never know.

Three river otters
casting concentric ripples
play and dive and splash.

Wire fences, cobwebs--
boundaries between here and there
collect morning dew.

New lambs being born--
things I am not meant to see
along the river's bank.

I heard the soil say,
"when will you rain, for I am
so thirsty and dry."

Saturday, 21 March 2015

of light and shadows

I think I know about the cycles of nature.  How the birds greet morning.  Where the moon rises and falls.  I watch trees grow leaves and daffodils bloom.  I pay attention to the coming and going of tides and how the air currents sound in trees with and without leaves.  In the past few years, this paying attention to nature's cycles has become my private spiritual practice--one that is really more about being aware than doing anything; it is a way of being not an act of doing.  I have known this way of being since I was a child, but school and culture and religion sort of beat it out of me.

As I sit and wait for the signs of the new moon to cross in front of the sun, I fill with giddiness about this moment.  This excitement fills my whole being; something rare is about to happen. I have felt this way before, mostly in spring and in autumn, when nature's treasures bloom and harvest.  It is the tangible, material things that matter. They focus our attention on something else while casting cyclical shadows of long light onto the soul.

When I step outside, I am surprised by how the light feels on my skin and how long shadows form on the grass. The air seems to have changed her movement, the temperature drops, and the birds seem to think it is morning again. I realize how little I really know about nature and her cycles. The natural world seems better equipped to read her signs.  I drag my children outside just as the moon falls upon the sun's face. I want them to feel the difference in the light.  They assure me they can but look at me strangely.  "Look at those long shadows," I tell them. Another strange look.

The difference between the spirit and soul is that the spirit is born of the soul. The spirit lives in the outer world, collecting images, experiences, and takes it back to the soul.  My giddiness is a spirit giddiness; I am collecting the polarized light from the solar eclipse, sending long shadows all the way down to my soul. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

pinecone pockets

Six years ago, I worked my way through  The Artist's Way. I have journals full of daily writing pages that I rarely visit, but folded in my pocket is a list of my touchstones:

the smell of lavender
the colour of the sea
the sound of skylarks
bird nests
discovery apples
blood oranges
the smell of my child's hair
spotting a seal
geese overhead
a black and white photograph taken by my father
Van Gogh's blue
a knitted blanket
the roar of wind
deep friendship
purple sunsets
full moon walking.

Today my pocket is full of pinecones. My three year old daughter danced her way through the forest by the sea, collecting pinecone after pinecone to stick in my pocket.  I wonder, are pinecones on her not-even-written touchstone list?  Maybe practicing this ancient behavior--all this collecting--has a purpose. Is it the dance of art? Is it the walk of creativity? The path of connection?  The site of beauty?

My daughter shows me how to approach a simple ordinary object as if it were the most unique object in the world.

With wonder and with awe, she chases beauty.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015


Moonshine walks on me
while my feet track stubble fields--
how can dark be light?


What moves the puddle?
The wind, the earth rotating,
the light from the moon.


Nature photographs
the road's black and white branches--
a constant flash of Moon.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

delicate nest

The delicate nest
still rests low on the branches
despite gale force winds.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

one walking mile = ten soul miles

I used to measure my mother's love for me by moon miles.  She would tell me she loved me to the moon and back, over and over again.  It meant she loved me to infinity.  After saying good night, I would lay in my bed and try to think of the largest number I knew and multiply that by what I knew was one walking mile; it was my way of trying to understand the great distanced landscape of love. What she was giving me was an anchor, the moon, so that I could always find my way. As a child, I perhaps knew this landscape was deep within me, but I only consciously thought of it as something outside of myself.

Now when I look at that outside landscape, watching the moon fall over the hills in the early morning, I think about how many thousands of miles she travels, and I look freshly upon that old landscape deep within me. For every one mile I walk, I travel at least ten soul miles.  Where am I going?  All sorts of places. I walk here and there, following a night's dream, wondering about its message.  I walk in and out of lines of poetry. I sing aloud. I talk to myself. I make lists. I watch deer. I sometimes take a detour to follow a bird's call just to listen. I see this rich inner landscape and its freedom to roam in nature and I know where I am headed: where is it?  just where is that location of the human soul?  I will find her.  I will walk and walk until I find her.

Monday, 23 February 2015

hidden mother 2

Under the crescent moon last night, I waited at the train station to meet my eldest son. He had only gone 15 miles to see a movie, gone only 3 hours, but my excitement to greet him, made me pause. I have dropped him off and picked him up loads of times without thinking about what I was doing. This time was different.  I thought about his age. How soon trains will take him far from me, and how they will bring him back to me even if time beats the miles.  That's when I recognized the hidden mother in me.  That's when I realized that the way I feel about him coming and going, building confidence, finding interests, taking trips, long and short, without me, is exactly how my mother felt years before: excitement to watch me grow and super excitement welcoming me home. It is humbling, this push and the pull, this letting go and this gathering in, a perfect balance of moonlight hanging in utter darkness. I thought I knew this mother, but only now I recognize her face.