Thursday, May 24, 2018

When You Love a Wild Thing III

When you love a wild thing,
you can never  again
to being tame.
He'll take you farther
than you'd ever go alone,
after which you'll never
be the same.

He was a wild thing,
and he shared
my wild and wilderness-y 
We gamboled endless 
sandy beaches,
never apart
through the happiest
and wildest
of our years,
and, when we had to leave,
we mourned together
our lost home
with inner tears,
the way all the wild 
and displaced creatures 

He was a wild one,
and in all my life,
he was my dearest friend.
He was himself,
black wolf who loved me,
to the end.
He made me laugh
as untamed wild things
always will,
living all his life
with a spirit
too big
to kill.

He loved me more
than anyone I ever knew,
so it was harder than I dreamed
when our years together
were through.
And, when he went away,
though he tried so hard to stay,
most of my heart
went with him,
for pain is the price
love pays.

Forever now, I'll listen
for his song.
I will miss him
every day
all my life long.
From the moment
his heart stopped beating,
from the hour
we had to part,
I've been
a weary wolf woman
with wolf howls
in my heart.

for my prompt at Real Toads: Must Love Dogs. I have written a book full of poems about this wonderful wolf-dog. He shared my happiest years, and seven years after his death, I still miss him every day. The phrase "a spirit too big to kill" comes from my friend Annell, who wrote it soon after he died. I am so grateful for our fourteen years together. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Grandfather Tree

Grandfather Tree,
through the centuries
you have weathered storms,
arms out, the girth of your trunk,
your tenacious roots,
holding you steady
against the winter winds.

On your crown, you sport
four spires.
It would take six people,
holding hands,
to circle your massive trunk.

I place my hand upon you,
and listen.
Your message is: Endurance.
Ancient cultures
once thrived
 near where you stand.
You watched them live,
then die.

Their descendants saved you
from the saw.
May you watch 
new generations grow.
May your inner core
hold steady.
May small birds 
bless you with song.
May the sweetness
please your ears.

I bow
to your rich history,
your gift of air,
the protection of your 
welcoming branches.
My eyes take you in
like a blessing.
You are my only

I hear your heartbeat.
You speak
the language of the Old Ones,
talking Tree story,
speaking Truth.
May we listen well.

for Sumana's prompt at Midweek Motif: to write a tribute poem.

Sunset at the Tofino Harbour

Heading back from seeing the whales.

It wasn't the most colourful of sunsets, down at the First Street dock. But it was so nice hanging out waiting for the sun to set. I saw a huge sea lion splashing about near the dock, and ran into an old friend I havent seen for close to twenty years, learning his granddaughter, a baby when we last spoke, is now a young mom. How time flies.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Walk in the Forest

Tonquin Beach

A bench to honour a friend
in the spirit world

Menina's pond

An example of culturally modified trees.
The Nuu chah nulth use the bark
in their cedar weaving and basket work.

"Listen carefully with your whole being 
to the ones who are now quietly speaking....
observe the plants, animals, forest, 
ocean, sky and heavens - 
that reality which is the source of life."

There is a system of interconnecting trails winding
through the forest and down to the beach. 
The village of Tofino and 
the Nuu chah nulth people
joined together to expand the trail system.

It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon walk, 
with views of water and forest. 
I thought I would share it with you. 
This forest is all second growth. 
In the 1930's, local history has it,  
a man had a 500 acre allotment in this area, 
and he clearcut the whole thing. 
Thankfully, it has grown back,
and there are some big trees 
among the younger ones.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seeing With Eyes of Hope, Listening as the Forest Speaks

Gisele Martin
Tofino Ambassador Program
photo by Tofino Mayor, Josie Osborne

She wears rose-coloured glasses,
sees with eyes of hope,
teaches we who want to learn
about the Old Ways,
the true ways.

"In those days, people and plants
and trees and animals
could speak to each other,"
she explains.
"We have forgotten how."

But, I know,
we can learn again.
We must.

She is passionate about
learning her tribal language,
keeping the ancient words alive.
She speaks them to us;
we repeat them:
Naciqs for Tofino ~
the spot where guardians
once kept watch 
over all the waters;
T'ashii, the path
on land and water;
my favourite, which means
"Everything is one."

The Tla-o-qui-aht have lived here,
with the land and the water,
for thousands of years.
"We are careful,
when we harvest bark or plants,
taking some, but leaving much more,
so there will be harvest
for future generations.

"The salmon feed the forest,"
she explains,
bear and wolf scat
bringing nitrogen to the trees
to keep the woods alive.

Long have her people
respected the territory
of whale and wolf and bear,
eagle and even
the lowly slug.
"If we enter the forest
and find a wolf den,
we leave immediately.
We honour their territory."

The Nuu-chah-nulth Ha-Houlthee 
- territory -
is ruled by their nation.
No treaties were signed
in the days when Europeans came
and took what they wished.
We non-natives
are living 
on unceded land.
May we be mindful
of this.

May we tread softly,
respectfully, here.
May we remember that,
to the First Nations,
the wolves, the bears,
the ancient forests, the whales,
we are merely 
guests here.

T'ashii Cultural Canoe Tours

for Brendan's prompt at Real Toads: to write about a heroine. I recently have been taking workshops and guided walks with Gisele Martin, a wonderful young local woman who is passionate about keeping her ancient language alive, and who offers teaching sessions as part of the local Ambassador program. I could listen to her all day as she tells her stories, speaks of the history of her people, and talks about living respectfully with the land, a subject so dear to my heart. Any mispelled words are completely my fault. Smiles.

Also shared with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United.

Upon the Shores of My Heart

Clayoquot Sound
called me forth
out of the desert,
brown and bare,
into the pulsing, alive,
thrumming heartbeat
of Mother Earth herself.

She lay before me
sandy shores, the ocean's roar,
mountains wreathed in fog
and mist,
her ancient trees,
the eagle's cry.

Activists, dancing and singing
on the road,
protecting wilderness,
beckoned to me
and my heart knew
I was home.

She sang to me
in whalesong,
in  sand  and surf,
in the timpani
of raindrops on salal.

She captured my heart

And now I'm heading home,
through the misty mountains.
I round the bend in the road
and there she is:
her endless waves,
rolling forever and forever
onto her welcoming shores.

I have, for half my life,
lived in thrall
to the lulling song of the sea,
her waves rolling in,
slate-grey and
frothed with foam,
forever advancing
and retreating
upon the shores
of my heart.

Sharing this with the Poetry Pantry at Poets United, where you will find good reading on Sunday mornings.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Tired Lady of the Marketplace

A Corner of the Market
Edward Emerson Simmons

He found her in the marketplace,
stopping to quickly sketch
her tiredness.
Moved by her plight,
he bought an apple,
brushing her hand with his
as he handed her a copper,
hoping for a smile,
though it seemed her face 
had forgotten how.

Gathering Wood
Edward Emerson Simmons

The next time,
she was gathering wood.
There were no hopeful dreams
in her eyes,
just the reality
of working long days 
for room and board,
searching for twigs
to warm 
her master's hearth.

This time he asked her 
if he might sketch her,
for pay,
the better to capture 
the details of her dark eyes,
the longer,
if truth be told,
to gaze openly
at her beauty
with his artist's 
appreciative eye.

He felt himself
wishing he could
spirit her away,
show her comfort and ease.
But it was impossible
for he was gentry,
and she a mere servant.
He watched her from afar,
pouring his emotion
into his paintings,
in which her poverty,
her fatigue,
her struggles,
were all laid bare.

by Edward Emerson Simmons

How random life is,
the accident of birth
a bed of roses
or of thorns.

A series of paintings,
and then she disappeared,
leaving him to wonder,
pensive by the fire,
puffing on his pipe,
drinking his brandy,
what had become
of the tired young lady
of the marketplace.

for Shay at Fireblossom Friday: a poem inspired by the paintings of Shay's uncle, Edward Emerson Simmons.