Aching to be Earth

Falls ebbs away in
this turning season. The
leaves no longer sing, now
aching to be
earth.

This gathering at
forest floor of raw
dying is primal, the
smell is sui generis, an
olfactory echo of the
odor of earth and birth
both, replete with
whiffs of bird’s
song and
the aroma
of being green: shot
through with chlorophyll, racing to leaf’s skin

And now this once verdant
blush lies at the feet of this
sylvan source
of life
of death
and everything
in between.

To everything there is a season…

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Contentment on a Fall Day

Saturday was leaf day at our house. It wasn’t really planned that way, although we did know that it was soon time to wrestle the trees’ labours to the curb, where the city will collect them in early November. We are fortunate in our neighbourhood to have this service, which occurs because we have an inordinate number of older trees that tower over our streets and homes. This time of year is so very gorgeous; as the leaves come down we find ourselves swimming in a sea of orange, and red, and yellow and a coral-like pink too.

My eldest and her boyfriend popped by Friday night, and in the morning Anelise exclaimed that she wanted to rake some leaves. I was quite glad for this intervention, and so the plan was that after brunch – we all had a handful of jobs to do – we would return to turn the yard from its fire-hued palette to green again. I went for a run, an especially lovely thing to do in autumn, and came back to find everyone hard at work. I gladly joined in, as we visited, and joked, and amassed the leaves at the curb, where they will be collected sometime in early November.

I do so much work that generates such little concrete results that I find a rich pleasure in things like raking leaves. A deep satisfaction attends my settling them curbside. I’m not sure if it is the rush of colour on the blue-black pavement, slick with rain from earlier in the day, or the return of the lawn to a contented fall green, but there is a kind of aesthetic pleasure in the process. Or perhaps it is the rhythm of moving a rake. I think at some deep level, it is because we were created to be moving and so many jobs these days are at desks, and the closest thing to activity that we manage is moving a mouse, or making our way to the coffee pot, and such.

Certainly, part of the attraction of this is the way it ritualizes our immersion in the cycles of the season. It seems many of us have lost our sense of identity with the earth. We live in a market driven world with an unrelenting concern with progress that drenches our days and drowns our souls. We are forever wondering about how our portfolios grow, how our careers advance, and how our communities compare with others. We feel like failure without progress. Nature doesn’t progress. It adapts. And deep down, I think, we know that we need to have this truth drench our very being, and bless us with contentment.

And so, we grinned today as we rallied our rakes in recollection of the cycle of life. Blood pushed around our body, and air cycled in and out of our lungs until we worked up an appetite for lunch. As we gathered around the board, and reminisced about this and that, it struck me that what goes around comes around: the “round” matters as much as most everything else.

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This Hope of Time

Pound out a poem
when your soul
feels empty, betrayed
by a loss, or
a distance, or
a failure.

Pound out a poem:
stretch your words
tight, like the
skin of deer
on ringed
wooden
rim.

Your voice… your stick
Your pain… your power
Your heartbeat… your hope.
Yes, hope, keeping
time because sometimes
this hope of time
is all we have.

This sentence is a scar…

Imagine, if you
will, this pen
a knife, this page
skin: sheet bleeding
ink into quill.

The scratch, scratch,
scratch you hear
is the sound
of paper being
lacerated and
from this
vellum comes
blood blue.

This sentence is a scar…

There is no writing
without pain, no
words without death.
“The Word was made flesh”
is both promise and warning:
“Write at your own risk.”

The Flying Saint

Last Thursday was spent on the docks. The beginning of October marks the time of year when sailboats in our climes move to the “hard.” We are relatively new to our Marina, and so I had my first experience of seeing about 50 boats move from floating to flying to resting in their “cradle.” The boat club brings in a crane and all day long boats are advanced along the pier, then hugged with straps before being lifted across the sky and nestled into a metal stand designed to handle the large keel that keeps sailboats afloat and stable while the wind propels them forward.

A friend asked me the other day if I feel a little sad on a day such as this. I do feel a little sad, knowing that another season of sailing has come and gone. Yet the day also comes with both nervousness and the relief that comes with seeing Santa Maria safely ensconced in her resting place for another winter.

All of us have these odd moments where we simultaneously experience a mix of emotions. It can make making sense of our experiences complicated. Of course, complication can be a good thing when we are looking at life a little too simplistically! It is easy, too easy to paint life in black and white, whereas our emotions remind us that the circumstances that have led to them tend to be outside of our control. Life is sometimes grey, often a kaleidoscope of colours, but rarely black and white! Emotions, then, are often complicated and uncertain. Add to that the fact that our emotions are usually shaped by memories that are molded by the singularity of our experience, and it is soon clear that we need to accept the complexity and intensity of these feelings. It is not unusual to be happy and sad over the same things; to be afraid and excited together; to feel love and repulsion at the same time. Emotions are complicated and complicating, but a gift of God all the same.

There are so many places in life where we live with these mixed emotions, and as I look back on some of the bigger ones in my life – such as major life changes etc. – I realize that this is a complexity that accompanies us to and into death, experienced paradoxically as both a poison and a balm. We hold our breath in the face of death, just as I did as I saw my boat lifted up out of the water and drifting some 40 feet above the ground across the parking lot before landing safely into the boat storage unit at which point I let my breath out again, and said a prayer of thanks.

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In Wake of Canoe

I’m going after God,
not content with
God’s coming to me. I’ll
seize the divine
cloak – here in
oak, there in
wave slipping away
in wake of
canoe.

It won’t do
for me to sit
patiently like Job
did until he didn’t.
I’ll raise a fist to divinity
and a pint to mystery. I’ll
cheer the thunder
clap resounding as
lightning ferrets
out traces of
the divine.

I’ll look into her
eyes, rimmed with
hope and worry
both and I’ll see
God seeing me,
God coming
after
me.