Exposed

Things will never be what they once were, yet haven’t these pandemic times been a needed shakedown of colossal proportions? A viral reminder that sameness, routine, even the time of a ticking clock are all human constructs, illusions we have gathered around us, bright individuated cloaks of security; still there is no comfort in the thin shrouds in which we now find ourselves clad, shivering in our newfound quasi-nakedness, and suddenly the formerly faceless man or woman pandering on the street corner seems eerily familiar;

Springtime in New Mexico is a blustery affair, Stellar Jays flying sideways, Black Vultures swept up high, then low on colliding thermals, protection sought in tall Ponderosas, time to gather what acumen they possess in order to move on, survival keeping them close to Mother Nature’s bones, and the main difference between those avians and us is that they sense their bit of earth and range within the scheme of it, there is no desire for more, nor longing for what might have been;

Hubris is the sole bane of the human species, and if Covid has served us well, it has been to level the playing field, teach us in a kinesthetic way the folly of self importance, demonstrating under a magnifying glass how alike we are to the man under the cop’s knee, unto the fears of the cop himself; shaking us down and down until we can see all others within our own psyches, and it is only then that we glimpse how akin we are to what’s outside the bubble of comfort and even how interdependent we are with all of it; a tiny virus has randomly crossed racial barriers, oceans, continents and economic strata to reach into the soul of things and root out our deepest fears, and if we remain strong, grounded and focused, the winds of change sure to blow many off-course cannot penetrate even the sparsest of garments;

And so we wait, cultivating patience where before it may have been lacking; we live, laugh, love and grieve with those we have come to know far better in this pause of shut-down, unmasked in the face of a new intimacy while we breathe in the gift of life, feeling gratitude for all we have been given; then it’s back to the Garden, where we get our hands dirty as we mindfully match pace now with nature’s rhythms, the inevitable awakening into a season of buds and bright blossoms; and eventually, in harmony now with All That Is, perceived Serpents included, we may finally reap the long-awaited harvest.

Acequias, or irrigation ditches, were hand dug all through New Mexico by the conquering Spaniards. Beginning in the 1600’s up until present day, these have been used to irrigate fields in this dry country.

No Small Thing

The dance we do, two partners holding
a thin sheet of paper between them, no hands,
just bodies aware of that small bit of substance,
mute as snow, drifting not crashing
into the weight of it;

The dance we do locks eyes and hearts as one
small thing, defining us, still unique, this closeness;
The space of a thin sheet of paper we do not drop,
it does not shift about but holds its own potential
there in the dark or in the light; no writing, no
scribble, no pictures, no definable substance;

It is blank but visible always, this thin sheet
of paper, fragile as an icicle, smooth as the surface
tension of water, strong as the atom and equally
inseparable.

Assemblage #writephoto

The Photo Prompt: Wicker

A walk in the forest reveals character,
the too-smooth perfect bark of white cedar
alongside the pocked husk of a dead relation
not yet upended, bustling home to woodpeckers
and nuthatches; mossy trunks of ancient
fir spirits, rooted then and now
in the goddess’ good earth;

Long before humans roamed these woods,
forest kinfolk called by others Druantia
visualized their own forms, gathering first
the dying limbs of relations who gathered
about in free association following
each sylph’s template, finally crowning
tops to denote distinct identities,
informing other beings who may then
behold them without trepidation
in their three-dimensional world;

Rituals practiced by the faithful remained,
in form or invisible, and as the greatest
of sacred numbers was three, a trio
of Druantia would venture forth to bless
open ground, threatened then and now
by strangers fearing to enter the dank
of their cool, dark forest home.

All photos ©Bela Johnson 2019

Posted in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt

 

Waiting on the Hurricane

The air is still; alternately, the winds gust a bit. Then it pours or does not. Most of the island, if the papers can be believed, is in drought. This is unbelievable to those of us living in North Kohala. We’ve had little but rain most of the year, albeit interspersed with brilliantly clear skies and sunshine. The gardens thrive, and what cannot abide too much water dies. Though that is very little, all in all. I can live with it, not that I have a choice in the matter.

Hawaii is a group of islands considered the most remote inhabited masses of land on the planet. For those of us who love this magical place, that does not faze us in the least. Yet we live in rapidly changing environmental times. Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest can now almost be counted on this time of year. Floods on the east coast continue, as do wild temperature swings. And that’s just the United States. Still, hurricanes are now as they have always been – unpredictable. A few days ago, Hurricane Lane seemed only remotely close to Hawaii Island. Today is a different story. Category 4 (as I wrote this, now a Five) coming our way. And here come torrential rains, though the winds have not picked up too much. And just as suddenly, it’s gone.

We don’t panic. We don’t, heaven help us, even prepare. We’ve lived 15 years of our lives on these islands, witnessed earthquakes (a magnitude Six found its epicenter in our town in ’06 – the furthest from the volcano, or from anyone’s expectations. Yet there you have it.) Leveled a massively tall concrete smokestack from sugar mill days. Slid houses right off their concrete foundations. We’ve watched from Molokai’s west shore as hurricane Iniki hurled destruction at our sister island Kauai. Several hurricanes have come close, but none has made landfall except peripherally with flooding, last time in Kapoho, much of which was only recently inundated with lava.

And so, at least for now, what else to do but wait?

“Our neighborhood.” All photos ©Bela Johnson

In the Clouds

Bring yourself, oh mortal, down
from strata high above,
perhaps we should remind you
that attention is not love;
It’s fine to think you’re welcome
here among us in our midst,
still, you might not care to hear
that you’re no better than the rest;

The boldness of your rally is
beyond what some can bear
while your brothers, sisters carry
all the stardust to your hair;
Let it twinkle deep inside you
so you know that you are blest,
while you eat and shit and suffer
in the galleys with the rest;

It gets lonely, I’d imagine,
you unable to decide
if those gathering around you
only jump on for the ride;
still, you yearn for fame and fortune
while the vacuum grows within
even thought at times you wonder
who’s the butterfly or pin;

On you ramble and you roll
exchanging favors for a smile,
and you know the jig gets hard
when you are dancing all the while;
never pausing, rarely stopping,
the insanity goes deep
and it fills you to the eyeballs
spreads like fungus on the creep;

Then the questions do provoke you
with self loathing and a jinx
when it strikes hard with a blight
you can’t endure like desert Sphinx;
that you’re drowning in delusion
feeling worthless to the core,
as your long-sought admiration
has reduced you to a whore;

Still, awash within the knowing
you’ll survive this, will endure
you await the dispensation
like some bounding, drooling cur;
let me say this with compassion
for your ignorance runs deep:
it’s time for pulling back the sword,
that journey is complete.

 

 

Gods and Elves

She is an archivist of the spirit,
cataloguer borne of those bred
to map and dangle
from family trees, having loosed
the mantle others gathered up gladly.

The records she tends,
mental file cards smelling
of musty library drawers marked
in alphabetical sequence,
grasping worn curved brass pulls
on oak boxes labeled Unknowable.

Some may postulate unafraid,
marching front and forward
interfacing with throngs of the disenchanted
fighting demons of doubt and desire
for life to once again prove itself predictable
like the preacher promised

Hellfire and damnation
or heavenly angels singing praises
to the One, which is You,
if only your soul is redeemable.

She is the wee elven one in the back
of the cobweb-strewn bookstore
poring over tomes, gathering bits
of wisdom, tracing archaic paths trod
by those brave enough to question
the face of the gods of man.

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