Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Walking Our Way Into Place: A New Poem


Huckleberry Preserve

Most days we've been walking a few miles, in our neighborhood, in other Oakland and Berkeley neighborhoods, and in the hills or along the bay.  Interestingly enough, it took the pandemic to deepen our connection to this place.

Not even ten years here,
in this strange sheltering time,
we are walking our way 
into rooting down in place.
To be on land not native
to family and tribe,
to fully live with the earth
not merely on it,
it is necessary
to know, to feel,
to honor, to love
this very land.

This is not easy
in urban places,
where the earth is burdened 
with concrete, invaded
by wires and pipes,
where lights besiege all
through the night,
and sounds of traffic
never fall into silence.

But this is the land
we live on,
this is the place
we chose.
We are required
to seek its acceptance,
to surrender our offerings,
to recognize and know
its waters, its hills,
its redwoods and pines,
its magnolias and lemons,
its goldfinches and hummingbirds,
its skunks and raccoons,
and yes,
even its rats.

This is where
our home is,
hereon the continent's
western edge.
May it truly be home.
May we know it
in our bones.
May we love it

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Western Edge

 We spent three Sunday mornings on Zoom with David Whyte exploring the mythopoetic world of the western edge of Ireland.  It was wonderful, and it set me thinking about edge dwelling.  This is a topic I've thought a lot about and dreamed a lot about (my dream group calls them "borderland dreams").  

So, here's the poem that arose out of it:

And hasn't it always been
the pull of the western edge,
so that going west has meant
heading towards your own 

As for us, we were born 
to the eastern edge, 
but we left the old settler shore 
that looks towards the known
as soon as we were grown 
enough to follow the call.
We had to pass through
the middle of things,
but were neither drawn 
nor allowed to stay there
for very long.

Oh, you can settle here.
We are, of course, settlers here -
interlopers, owners, usurpers.
It will never be sufficient,
but we can apologize
for ourselves and our actions,
and we can bring something
to the land.  We can know
and treat the edge place
as holy.

So, if you are here,
an edge dweller,
you are charged 
to use the edge 
to sharpen your wits,
to call forth dreams of healing,
to watch the sky at night
and at the turnings of the days,
and to love where 
you felt guided
to do your work.

And what is out there
past the waves slapping
the western shore?
Do we yearn to go 
still farther out,
towards another edge,
to the Great Beyond,
to the sea, to the sky,
to Orion's belt?
You know - Out There,
to what cannot be known.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Two Small Poems for the Season

Baby Spring

the girls call
this time of year
Baby Spring,
and it is the case
that baby leaves
have sprouted
on the young pomegranate 
and the Japanese maple.

The sun has returned
to the back deck
after its three months
of yearly absence.
Pink magnolias swell
on the tree two yards over,
while white and pink blossoms
decorate the plum trees
two houses down 
the other way.

in this light,
in this time,
with birds chirping
from here to there
and back, 
how could a woman not
appreciate this very day,
this very time?

The ginger plants
are dancing.
Come! the wind says.
Breathe in the fragrance
of the early blossoms
on the vine below.
Let the sun
do you good.
The green world
is offering itself
for soul healing.

Sky Seeing

The day's sky
a touchstone.
The birds, clouds,
sunrises, sunsets
summon attention,
directing mind
upwards and out.

The night's sky -
Big Dipper and Orion
(visible now in early Spring) -
evoke the Great Mystery.
lifted spirits
and a settled heart.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Morning in the Realm: A New Poem

Every morning I go downstairs to write, and I look out at the expansive sky, the land below the hill we live on, and over to the hill on the other side of the avenue.  There's an apartment building on that hill that often catches the first beams of sun rising over the larger hills to the east.  Sometimes I imagine the building as a castle, lit up by the dawning light.  Here's a photo in which you can get a glimpse of this place:

Why am I telling you this?  Well, the "castle" came into this small poem this week.  Really, there's nothing at all spectacular about the morning, the building, or the poem.  But I can tell you, when I manage to have mornings like this, I am truly grateful.

The sun rises
above the
eastern peaks
and lights up
the pale walls
of the castle 
on the hill.
A black bird
wings west and
suddenly drops
as it hastens,
then rights itself
and lands on top
of a spindly pine.
This is morning
in the realm,
the bluing sky 
smeared with clouds,
the regal trees still
in the calm 
morning light.
Another day begins,
and we, too,
begin again,

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A New Poem: And the Wind Blew

Inauguration day felt hopeful.  Such a good thing.  I wrote this a few days before, and even with some renewed hope, I can't forget or ignore what feels true.  

And the power went out. 
The wind lifted and overturned chairs,
    bent and broke tree limbs and whole trees,
    crashed through wind chimes,
    tossed bits and pieces of things to the ground.
Was it coincidence that it was the last day of the presidency
    that also upended things,
    that plundered the earth for profit,
    that enlarged the rich and diminished the rest,
    that lied in order to sway the gullible?

Perhaps the wind came to disrupt,
    but not in the way he disrupted.
Perhaps it came from an earth
    attempting to cleanse itself and us.
Perhaps the unsettled feelings it inspired    
    were not a bad thing.
Things are unsettled, and so
    must we be.

A virus rages and mutates as we
    do not change enough, or fast enough,
    to learn the lessons of the necessary.
Will the change of power brokers be enough?
There are 400,000 dead in our land alone,
    and many deaths still to come.
Maybe mine.  Maybe yours.
Perhaps the wind was a warning
    as well as a cleansing.
Perhaps we should listen to the wind.
Strike out "Perhaps."
We should listen to the wind.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021


 Sometimes the poems come quickly, all of a piece.  This is one of those.

Anxiety rises and sets
like the sun.
Every day passes
like the last.
Sheltered, walking,
eating fine meals and
drinking bitter dregs.
We hold the tension,
pulled and pulling
this way and that.
Calm and safe
in an unsafe calm.
Holding on 
to a Christmas tree
past the time it should be 
tossed to the curb.
This is how we live
in the time of old age,
in the weary age,
in the world-beaten age.
This is what we have -
our hands full of salt,
our nights full of dark dreams,
our lives still shining with light.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Out of One, Many

Out of one, many.
    From the Great Mystery come
Asherah, Demeter, Cerridwen,
    Lakshmi, Hel, White Buffalo Calf Woman -
each a unique manifestation 
    of the sacred,
each a facet
    of a single jewel,
each a colored thread
    in a celestial weaving,
each opening a doorway
    to the One.

There is a goddess to touch
    every woman's heart,
to deepen her bond to
    this beautiful, bountiful earth.
Reciprocity with the one
    who chooses you
(who you think you choose)
    will yield a chance to
live as a tree does -
    roots down, branches up,
reaching for that
    which is greater
than yourself.