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

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

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

Mother

Waves lap at my feet as I stare down sunset,
myself a fixed object on the shore, bringing
to mind reclamation, our oceanic mother
calling me back and through time, sloughing
off my scales, crawling onto the sand
to admire her from another angle; perhaps
only this, in the end, shall redeem me;

At the very least, I know my place now,
fragile feelers in a complex web
of interconnection, taking time at last
to resonate, cell to cell, with the vast
and shifting body of my origins.

All photos ©Bela Johnson

Common Ground

I go down burrowing, a badger unearthing
for the sake of it, a sort of mining known only
to the creature and sometimes the human heart,
the latter less willing to surrender its complexities;

On the surface doves appear to assert territoriality,
the movement stitched to their DNA, do the dance,
wings loosen, shrug and sidle as feathers ruff out;
the pup tracks likewise, older now, more apt to
shake it free than to assert his alpha dominance,
respecting, as may be, the gods that surround him;

Scanning the horizon, a single humpback breaches
fully out of water, distant upright dirigible crashing
again and again, only to propel itself upright nearly
a dozen times before it submerges; sated, it seems,
for the time being;

Sublime teachers all, critters of which we are kin,
bipedal human animals preferring drama over quanta,
emotions, life in the head lands; yet tune in silently
and there you are, come back to the earth, bosom
of creation, return to the senses and simply be.

all photos ©Bela Johnson

All One

Time slips by, a wisp, a wrinkle,
and soon we are dust, unremarkable,
insignificant; as one, at long last,
with the beauty that surrounds us.

 

Waialea Bay
Old Kiawe, Waialea
Sunset, Kohala Coast
Kohala Coastline Mauka View

 

All photos ©Bela Johnson