Parenthetical

Sitting still always an option, gazing
at mellow reflections, morning light
on old fir flooring burnished
by the feet of generations;
yet compelled, ever coaxed
out of doors and into an emerald
wonderland punctuated by floral
scents and hues, exuberant birdsong,
busy-ness of others dulled down
into static distance;

Staying with never the issue,
languishing in quiet unfamiliarity,
pausing beyond what is known
to drink in nature’s bounty, forest
or field, oceans or rivers streaming
along with time, alternatively
stretching and restricting, lungs
of creation drawing in sky,
expelling molten earth now
onto seashore rent by surf,
cooling waters receiving,
transforming, amending,
yet perpetually flowing.

Sniffing Cedar

He’s out in the shop again, the fine
clean scent of western cedar wafting
through my office window, drawing me
out to see what perfect hands are crafting
now from raw;

The straight-grained lines of red, variegated
with a neutral light, white as a crosscut wafer
of eastern pine, carefully- sawn cleats sliced
into freshly band-cleaved matched boards,
comprising the backside of a custom cabinet;

Americans on the whole hesitate to pay craftsmen
for fine work such as this, but rarely (like now)
one gives him artistic liberty and oh, I am loathe
to part with it, knowing such beauty will soon
be taken for granted, preferring to add yet
another flair to our own interior’s design,
knowing (as nature does) how appreciative gazes
cause giddy ripples in the bellies of gods.

Sanctuary

Shower trees quiver blossoms
of shell pink or flaxen yellow
with ivory struck through, sucking
up abundant rainwater, tips a brand
new green in these late spring days;
shooting ever upward, obscuring,
as originally planned, any traces
of power lines stretched between
poles fashioned from dead relations
coated in creosote, convenient
for humans more dependent,
though little they might remember,
on the lilting shade provided
in the increase of summer heat,
stretched sideways now into spring
and fall, escalating;

I planted them all in the half-acre
lawn claimed as home, knowing
how they would reduce exposure
to relentless subtropical sunlight,
dappled respite for fragrant cattleya
and glossy-leafed anthuriums,
while wing-weary fliers seek shelter
and water untinged with roadside
poisons meant to choke back
jungle vegetation that simply
cannot be contained, conditions
being prime for proliferation.

All photos ©2019, Bela Johnson

 

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.

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

Glimpse

Shards of light splinter azure skies piercing grey
and white veils hung over days we have grown
accustomed to, days drowned in deluges of drenching
rain once sent to nourish, now stripping shrubs
and flowers of nutrients washed deep asunder;

One tree standing stark and brittle, cut
down in last week’s pruning while others thrive,
throwing verdant foliage out as springtime winds
casually whirl them down to boggy soil, carpeted
now with thick mulch meant to soak up excess
in anticipation of summer heat yet to come,
as it will, eventually;

Changing climate brings to mind old plantation
days, hard labor cutting cane, hacking through
jungle-thick mountain forests, knee-deep in mud,
to construct miles of irrigation ditches, flumes
and sluiceways now used recreationally, history
fading for all but a few lingering elders
whose scattered memories find their niche
in the rolling wheel of apocryphal time.

All photos ©Bela Johnson

What Has Been

This post is entitled appropriately as my ode to 2018. 2019 seems downright revved up, as we begin with the first dry weather we’ve had in some time. And the energy to clear up what was muddled most of last year! Aloha, All:::

Rain streams now in sheets, curtains sweeping,
drumming over metal rooftops, drawing me out
of slumber, winking like a mole as I snap
on the light, settle onto the spare bed
and begin to write, for there will be no sleep
in this sudden pitch of restlessness;

The waters of an uneasy spirit are drawn down
from overhead clouds masking what can only
be known when night filters out distractions
of the day; too much chaos, obligatory
conversations, automatic responses triggered
by years of people pleasing, dishonoring
my own deep need for less of everything;

And how could I have known this was
a requirement for sanity in glaring headlamps
of the world’s demands, as if Creation itself
could not possibly move forward without
my constant input;

Ironies abound as ends have overtaken means,
while the stark realization that life goes on
with or without me is finally the liberation
sought all along, freedom arriving,
at along last, unfettered and perpetual.

Waning light, Kailua-Kona
Around the bend, Kailua-Kona
Nishimura Bay view, Kohala
Lucy ponders the end of another year

All photos ©2019, Bela Johnson