Forest Home

I have chosen to come here to this place, bleak
and dry and windblown after the harshness of winter;
the land has been in isolation too, as it perpetually will
uncomplainingly, year following year, why do we humans
resist it so? The is-ness of life is a thing we have to remind
ourselves of, lest we forget all is in divine order;

The elk are out most mornings, grazing and moving further
toward the denser Ponderosa forest, following seasonal
dictates of their species; boundary fences notwithstanding,
they leap and bound over all but the highest barrier
and I rejoice that I have spotted, just this morning,
the places they bed down at night and traverse the terrain
we are now privileged to steward for what time it is ours;

What are our collective impulses and dreams? Have we
lost all sense of feet planted on earth, pulse of the planet
drawing us this way and that, moving in herds or alone
as befits the calling (and we are summoned, no mistake),
yet I arrived here in the midst of a global pandemic edgy,
unsure we had done the right thing, planning a move
from our lush Hawaiian landscape to this high desert
that once captivated with pungent scents of sage
and juniper, pine and cedar, magical carpet of cones
and needles and quartz scattered as if nature intended
nothing so much as delight;

Without courage we are lost, without faith we lack
a compass, without taking chances, we miss
opportunities that await the global citizen for whom
this collective in-breath provides pause to reflect
on the quality of choices made daily in a life
meant simply for us to breathe deeply
and enjoy the journey.

 

Darkness Before the Dawn

Humbled by an ending
which is only the beginning,
I slowly row my boat toward shore,
but find there is no safe harbor,
no spit of earth on which to land,
so I gather up oars again; not time,
not yet;

I know but don’t know this ephemeral
relationship with the calendar, conflating
ever with the now, and now, and now,
pulsing possibilities inherent
in the fullness of living;

There is a wider vision, copious
in its offering, and it stills me,
remaining silent as all possibilities
converge and congeal, darkness
always preceding the breaking
blue grace of dawn.

all photos of Pololu Valley at daybreak
©2020 Bela Johnson

Hold Fast

Hold onto the preciousness of this day, squeeze it
until dawn breaks, fanning out like silvery wings
of a hawk circling overhead, spreading a watercolor
morning across misty skies, eggs cracked into creamy
melted butter in a hot silvery pan;

Hold fast, wind sweeping across undulating fields,
cracking dead limbs from ancient trees, ruffling
whitecaps in this ever-changing oceanic landscape;

Drop anchor, stay awhile with the presence,
the in-draw of breath, the outflowing currents
of busy-ness, postulations, abstractions, suspicions
cast away now, before they clinch and claw
at the treasured peace of bliss held in the moment,
for this, as we make it, this intentional pause
stretches into constellations of ticking time;
We can choose. This is our life.

No Vanity

There is green, and then there is the delicate
curled chartreuse ribs of a fern frond
as sunlight trips fantastic through the rhythm
and hum of a late afternoon, busiest time of day
for folding in fragments of lost time in preparation
for the long shadows of impending nightfall;

Meanwhile peachy colored bell-shaped blossoms
drop from angel trumpet trees, hibiscus hybrids
twist tight their once-riotous display and do
not contemplate whether enough eyes
have witnessed the shade or texture of what has,
for them, taken not inconsiderable time and effort
to pull together for all who would witness,
setting the stage for a repeat performance
on tomorrows yet to come, bold beauties
on parade, regardless.

Coast

When the silver spool of dawn unravels
in languorous wisps, as clouds unfurl low
and wide in the overhead sky, my gaze sweeps
broadly and what I behold is the artist’s palette
come to life, a masterpiece with every dawning
and dusky day while the earth spins slowly
on her axis, oceans holding fast to the anchor
of gravity, fathoms of depth containing secrets
they intend to keep for eternity, horizon bending
at the ends, not level as many presume;

Soon a stark light prevails, flattens out,
shadows vanish as too-bright colors define
this segment of day, creatures move or retreat
as befits patterns held by generations of their kind,
minutes tick somewhere in cities and towns,
bells toll, hands of giant timepieces click into place
ticking time with the pace of that frantic life,
while elsewhere the sleek white neck of a swan
settles into its downy shoulders to paddle serenely
around the cool mossy waters of a still,
reflective pond.

Photos ©Bela Johnson

Loving the World

My Instagram post this morning quoted Mary Oliver, “My work is loving the world.”

Despite what the day brings, and sometimes it seems overwhelming, could there be anything more meaningful? When the floor slips out from under my feet and I fall like Alice down the rabbit hole, I can be certain I will eventually land on solid ground. And it is this ground of my existence I trust.

Enjoy these sunrise photos I took of Pololu Valley. Aloha. Be well.

The Teaching

THE TEACHING

Schooled to the rigors of religion, if I took nothing else away
from those origins it was faith; faith that a child’s prayers
would be answered by forces unseen, and I took root
in that faith like fieldstone, anchoring my small body in cracks
and crevasses formed by flooding time, a snake secreting low
and tight, protection sought in the shade of midday,
giving nothing away, not a breath, shutting out the discord
of voices, dissonant sounds that soothed the ears of others
with that tinge of the familiar;

Sitting in newly-mown grass, breathing in the herbaceous bouquet,
eyes attuned to breaks in the pattern, movement underneath,
always underneath, what moved in shadow most fascinated,
pill-bugs rolling tight when threatened, millipedes threading
through miniature thickets, grasshoppers navigating the tangle,
smell of damp pungent earth drawing eyes and nose closer,
seeking level with a world unto itself, and I never ceased cringing
while watching careless feet stomping thoughtlessly upon
unseen realms, Jack and the Giant, gentry and the dispossessed,
disparity a background hum in the grace of my limited freedom;

Trudging up arid mountain trails or down into gushing streambeds
suited best, the mentholated air of eucalyptus mixing with the dank odor
of leaf mulch swirling in eddies and under boulders, fishing wet mats
out with my hands to bury my nose in that humid bouquet while the rest
of the world disappeared into a collage of confusion to which many
accustom themselves while a rupture grows like an aneurysm in the center
of the soul until that longing bursts forth like a swimmer breaking surface,
a yearning to gulp oxygen like life itself, that corporeal kinship
with the earth, a silent whisper, Return.
Return to me, and be whole.

images ©Bela Johnson 2019

RITUAL

I ask first the trees, honoring the foliage
that shades fragile skin, Will you take root
in my heart?

I ask the black and gold glittering sands,
Will you accept the imprint of my passing?

I ask the ocean, placing palms and soles
upon shores cooled by your blessing,
Can you cleanse away the temporal madness
enjoining me to a fractured humanity?

I ask the pali, jutting purposefully out
and over the sea, What shall I sacrifice
to your astounding beauty so that you might
endure all that is yet to come?

I sit in wonder and my spirit is calmed,
as the breeze gently enfolds her daughter,
whispering, whispering:

This is all: you are my eyes and ears;
you feel our is-ness, your hand records
our passing, awakening others who might,
in their own time, and in their way, return
to us pure and whole and healed.


all images © 2019 Bela Johnson

New Year Taps

(Modified from the original Boy Scout Taps)

Aloha, and many blessings on this new year! May we each find peace, fulfillment and understanding of our judgments and limitations so that we might transcend! Blessings! ::::

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, hope is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, hope is nigh.

Saying goodbye to 2018
Welcoming in the new!

All images ©2019, Bela Johnson