see her there
that wide open tree out my window
the one with gray arm branches, no leaves, and peeling bark?
holding divine moss in perfectly twisted hands?
the one that all the flickers love?
I am breaking, she says,
Here in this valley between home and field
among healthy trees and young green shrubs
small ponds at our feet
ivy and blackberries
winding up and up and up and still
some of the worried
younger trees and humans
are turning blue with fright again
You are breaking, my friend,
How long have I been here?
you wonder, looking
so dead to some
so teaming with life and generosity to others?
Maybe 300 years.
Lately I’ve been creating warm rotted wood
teaming with ants, bugs
bird nests, diamonds, dripping
mosses, catching dewy golden drops
spying into windows
dancing on roof tops
For 50 years while you flew around here in terror
I’ve been standing right here
offering everything you need
waiting for you to look up
Let me be her!
let my sap harden into a million rent-free ant condos
let birds and hives find my joints the perfect place for nests
let chickadees hide seeds in my bark to re-find
when winter’s ice claims all our ground
let billions find life in the soil, where my branches fall
let me rejoice in being fully here, fully home as home to all and dead to some
We are breathing, break
and just break.
May that be me!
content and confident
teaming with life
talking to busy humans more than 50 years after my death!
May I also always be breaking,
tears and laughter
birds and trees
seeing to that very that.
Ridiculously proud of the pussy-pink hat
—a sort of low-tech asshole detection device—
a kind woman knit for me and placed, very gently
onto my bare head.
What a gift she is.
What a gift you are.
Let’s re-gift the pink hat to the crows in the yard
Ooo! Or maybe to the women in town running the thrift store!
They’ll know who most needs it next.
tree, birds, women, hat
for 46 years of remarkably patient and perfect lessons
How to Breathe and How to Break
How to Shelter, Even In Death
How to Live Strong and Laughing and Untamed
Together In Unshaken Wonder
I love it when
the wind strolls in
and my meadow friends
dance and bow.
Love it when
waves rush to crash across
the wide beach smiles up
where the eagles rest silent on the wind above
etch greetings sky to horizon down to me
all the way home: carried and strong.
I love it when
ears find old playground laughter between
of empty swing sways
find playground teasing within
little sister crow’s nagging cries
following big sister eagle
back and forth
back and forth
boat house to nest
nest to boat house
boat house to nest.
Ah, little sisters.
Love it when
eyes cherish the faded flap-flapping flag
forgotten by neighbors rushing back to the city.
Cherish wind: an absent spacious presence
Cherish sand: a shattered toe-hugging
Cherish the polished-cream beauty of driftwood.
Here books, stones, deer, and gentle evening light
invite themselves to play:
sated, triumphant, wildly creative
complete within themselves and completely inappropriate.
All silent and awkward at just the right moments.
Humans arriving here
and far between.
We arrive like children
gleefully joining the chorus
certain our tiny voice is heard
among books, stones, deer, dancing warm light
heard within silence.
Or, we arrive here like grownups: certain of nothing at all.
Either way, those invited here
come to play
pulled by the sea
or some other place
where they grow quiet enough to hear the invitation.
I love that we hear the call
so everywhere, so often now
More than anything else in this world
I love dropping every last big plan I had
just to respond, in kind
to the invitation
Dancing in the breeze the tree
is quiet and self-contained.
except for the sun
the soil, the birds
butterflies and bees
rain and wind
Daniel and me
pruning away dead and crossing branches
inviting more sun in to her center
lending her our shoulders and driftwood
to prop her up
after November’s storm pulled up some of her roots.
Ok, so not exactly self-contained.
What I mean is self-assured
happy with where and who she is
not fliting about like we humans do.
You know, worried, questioning everything,
wandering some days, angry, distrusting
Although, some years she is lost too:
like the two years that she was covered with
she had to have been a little worried
made almost no apples, and dropped those she did, quickly.
Her world was dark then. She hunkered down, moved within
sent no new branches toward the sun.
my point about this apple tree is that
Beautiful, strong leaves.
Graceful, arching branches
and more than a few that prove trees get bed head too
with limbs nestled all askew against the sky at night.
Amazing, delicious apples
beyond generous in her season
(to the point that we have run out of ideas again
for things to do with all these apples
and so have our neighbors
even the deer here are drunk).
The apple tree is pure delight.
To play a small part in her full and shining life is enough.
I found a perfect dead bird
on the deck, outside the window
victim of violence
a deceptive white light through too-big windows
his perfectly groomed feathers
grew darker as they moved
from his pale yellow-gray head to his almost black tail
I spent yesterday willing him, rise
please open your beak again, open your eyes
shake precious soft belly, hop to perfect black feet
dance again, go!
but he was gone
This morning I carried him deep into beauty
laid him to rest
in the tall grass of a clearing
beside the cabin
in woods and in sunshine
his family around me
we told him he’d be missed
that he was, is, loved, by everything around him
In saying goodbye
I fell to my knees
wept like a baby
for beautiful Orlando
I vowed to slow down and notice
to listen more closely
to love louder and better and more.
Then we all did.
Dull reeds and mud-gray grass
winter’s cattails dirt-sprayed root to tip
hints of breezes dance between the strands and
dew drops race sunshine
down bended blades to end
Driftwood graveyard here at low tide’s end
trickling water settles in to chill
in spa-pack salt-smooth mud
all’s peaceful here and still
on a Washington coast
in home Swinomish
warm to the bone
at 61 degrees.
To fall backwards
into love with a place
is to notice yourself
is to lose yourself
into home, into space
with no where to go
no time to lose
just shoeless feet
blanket grass and
to hold us when we fall.
lives the one
My lungs are fog
my heart is mirth
Skagit bay? he is my buddy
and breathing it
How lovely to be
this Salish sea.
I am tired
of this world
I’m tired of violence
hidden, outright thwarted
young lives mangled, ended
weapons preferred to soft human flesh
I’m tired of being told what to think
how to think
why I’m wrong
every time I speak
I’m tired of politics. period.
I’m tired of extremes in memes
pointless contextless debate
distant argument and hate
short attention spans…
I’m going to clean this house
release the mouse
let go some old friends too
and start again with you…
I’m choosing artists and their art
kids helping parents re-find heart
I’m choosing nature walks
poets gathering in old schoolhouses
caregivers helping one another out
I’m choosing animals
trees and perennials
bird migration routes
helping sisters out
with butterflies and bees
quirky humans laughing
stretch selves, without crushing us
I’ve been thrown beneath my final bus
by these hands that forgot how to trust
I’m choosing garden plots
homemade neighbor gifts
shared with refugees
who feel like home to me
I’m choosing books
that bend my mind
and those who let me play with it
I’m cleaning out my house
giving most away
loving those I’m with
helping exactly how I am
I’m filling all my time
showing up as gift
for those who need me as me
more deeply curious
And when I find myself
among the curious
among kind silly weird
among the generous
the humbled, awed, and wow’d
the come and play with mes
the sit and stay a spells
Why don’t you rest with me?
then I will recognize
the home I’m longing for
is the space we’re sitting in
we will find ourselves
at play on solid ground
soaring with dragon friends
among the clouds we make
right here on earth