I am the nesting wren in May. I am the tall blue elderberry. I am the queen of dragon flies. I am the angry geese on the shores. I am salmon swimming up stones. I am the black bird who suddenly swoops. I am the steady swishing of rain. I am the rising wind on the Sound. I am the ancient mountain Tahoma. I am the lanterns of remembrance. I am poetry recited as if in trance. Who throws light on the Sun-a-do peaks? Who is both fir and lightning which strikes? Who knows both sun and silver moon? Who but I know the secrets of midnight? Who gathers the memories, sings to the lands? Who attunes to the fields, the rivers, the peoples? Who If not I? I invoke the waves of Salish Sea. Who if not I? I call out peace to all community.
I am the nesting wren in May. I am the tall blue elderberry. I am the queen of dragon flies. I am the angry geese on the shores. I am salmon swimming up stones. I am the black bird who suddenly swoops. I am the steady swishing of rain. I am the rising wind on the Sound. I am the ancient mountain Tahoma. I am the lanterns of remembrance. I am poetry recited as if in trance. Who throws light on the Sun-a-do peaks? Who is both fir and lightning which strikes? Who knows both sun and silver moon? Who but I know the secrets of midnight? Who gathers the memories, sings to the lands? Who attunes to the fields, the rivers, the peoples? Who If not I? I invoke waves of the Salish Sea. Who if not I? I call out peace to all community.
c. 2020 Ruth Ann Oskolkoff
based on the ancient Irish poem “The Song of Amergin”
The Bodhisattva rests in glacial air, under a dust of snow, leaves fallen into one arm. This fairyland Buddha sits in an exquisite etched chair, a powdery image of beauty. Winter brings blinding thoughts of flaky falling dreams, slushy icy hard footprints, with crunchy mantras of wind. Forever surrounded by obscuring of days, whiteout of the mundane, penetrating freeze, and blizzard of emptiness. Crystalline diamond Vajra surrounded by endings. Slow drifting meditations that meander to the ground. White snow like bones, cold as death, frozen in compassion. Drifting to enlightenment with vows to return until all are in blessed fields. Icy mantra Om Mani Padme Hum to mountain emptiness, echoing forever in alpine Buddhafields. Not this, nor that– but always something else. These days, we mostly see blessed falling flakes of snow.
Undulating rivulets emerged when Paleocene glacial ice had formed Fluvial rifts worn in naked chalk hills, Current flowed over burnished boulders Moving past numinous burial mounds. Numerous gifted objects; black granite Etchings, carved statues, broken goddesses, Inscriptions, pottery, jewelry, rough-hewn Garnets, flowers, consecrated herbs, skulls, Gold ornaments, weapons, prized artifacts; Sacrifices, ancestors’ ageless prayers Left with olden Father Thames. For them, The sinuous streams were alive, full worlds Of votive offerings inside murky depths, Lifeblood pleas, observances thereafter Troubles now vanished, solemn promises, Treasures carefully bestowed upon Spirits, watchful deities; faithfully Invoking his ancient name Tamesas. Soothing serenity, shared sympathy Of natural realms, fresh vital sources Of human existence. Bestow us grace, Ye shadowy witness at Runnymede Where King John signed, boldly intrepid Revolution conceived at Putney, gather amongst longstanding healing springs. Today, Londinium rises since years prior– Square buildings, low-hum modernity Hidden quiet abbeys, offbeat hamlets. From seasonal splashes near Trewsbury European eels migrate upstream; Myriad carp, redfin perch, brook lamprey, Dragonflies, mosquitoes, wee midges, Pale cormorant, herring gulls, wagtails, Swans glide round woodland tapestry, Braided channel islands rest alone, Arched medieval stone slab bridges, Tree lines fête ash, alder, chestnut, beech. Floodplains, tangled sedge reedbeds, Owls speed above tree-covered islets, Teaming alluvium water-meadows Growing lavender, iris, marigold. Straightway this lone night, one poet Inhales icy air, ambles here a while, As evening rolls and wobbles thru, Shivers, hears rhythmic elegiac song. Wont to imagine fish swim steadily, Heeds brown bats’ imperceptible flutter, Breathes cold winter spray, odd breezes Dance entwined together. Spontaneous Expressive patterns under still surface, Harmonious tempo. Oh Father Thames Sooth simple fears during plain scattering Of meadowsweet, vervain, angelica, Strewn into sodden watery course. I shall find something within these surges, Sweeping lunar halo held by grandfather sky, Surging awareness, sudden inward response, Curious illumination, that sacred place Whereat mistral winds hold smallest sway. Thou unchanged, each moment shines new. Are we your offspring? Wild progenies Unearthing untamed presence, shadows Who seem animate, blurred boundaries, Impossible images, quick flickers. Father Thames drifts beside misty heath Dark surfaces veil universes beneath, Hushed verge our temple, bare hedge my altar, Heeding eerie owl calls some reveal they Have heard, long-expected wintery freeze, Unending run which travels further east, Aquatic animals receive refuge below. Visiting sheer essence of bog and fen, Walking rough footpaths along edges Slowly nearing home, greeting itinerant Passers-by, contemplating end journeys We all take, flying towards distant seas Like great blue herons do, understanding Harmony amid nature’s undulate ways Of old river rhythms, oh Father Thames.
Medieval hedgerows of woody trees stretch in vast privilege, to define grassy boundaries, allege privacy, or seclude from prevailing winds. Formed as part of parish edges which ran along the original broad fields, boundless colorful foliage, darkened sod, odd fences made of nature, low trees and shrubs, smoldering lavender, blooms of flowering quince all together to cast an ancient shape upon this bejeweled green. Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor, nor do they spin. The narrow leafed Portuguese laurel is a dense evergreen hedging shrub which produces beautiful white flowers in June fields and by the roads so drivers know which direction to go and sheep know where to graze. Uncertain of owner, ancient boundaries of charming hawthorn, sloe, blackthorn, ash and spindle rise like an expansive tor. I want to be in that living world. Give me a copse of eight woody trees–a flutter of leaf, a scurry of animal, and a freedom of birds who sing adagios. That is the life we all deserve–not encased and captive with claims written on paper many miles away, locked with a key away in a useless wad. My reality shall be the wind and rain, the spring hare and wandering deer. I want history and stories, the sounded and voiced. This is the stuff of brood and life near the flood of the communal stream. I will believe in mud in front of my face, seeds blown past by the breeze. I want to find a share that cannot be sold. The real profit is to live within the long boundary, straddle rhythms of the distant sky and the moody moon. The divine way is to give shelter to the living creatures among blessed root and stone in a sacred pledge. We will then be rich in imagination with a living hedge.
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