Cascade #writephoto

A cat crouches low in the shadows
of the rectory, and it has been long since
I have been in the company of cats; dogs
sprawl lazily outside monolithic stone walls
while snakes coil under rocks and birds light
gently from branch to branch;

The sun rises, sets, rises again without
forethought or trepidation, simply and solely
to beam golden warming rays upon bodies
spinning within its orbit, conjoined with life
as life is with itself;

Like our own existence, creation
of a physical universe is comprised of flow
and ebb, light and dark; while we clip
and prune neatly manicured gardens
and lay flagstone pathways to enforce
our human imprint, animals being
the mitigating factor between a world
of nonresistance and us with a will
to manipulate all we behold, if only
to flex our considerable creativity;

And so we seek safety, a cup of tea,
a fire to warm quaking limbs, the kindness
of friends or strangers, connections sought
causing ripples in the fabric, influencing
events that cascade, regardless of intention.

All photos ©Bela Johnson

Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt

 

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

 

Old Growth

The wind through the firs sounds
like the distant thundering South Pacific
from our island home, yet similarities end
there, ruddy nose running from unaccustomed
chill and fingers reluctant to part
from pockets;

It has been years since I rooted feet
in forest soil, younger and more absorbed
with survival, and it seems I never perceived
sensations so acutely, my skeleton awakened
as discrete and frail in companionship
with these massive giants, finger bones clad
insufficiently in thin shrouds of flesh,
tapping on keys as I attempt to record
a tangle of sensations since arriving
on this northwest spit of land;

Old growth firs harbor a resilience witnessed
in few places, save the redwood forests
of northern California, sudden winds damage
delicate saplings yet they continue growing
apace if not more determined into curvy
arboreal titans that dwarf mere human
presence; only massive metal contraptions
conceived by the minds of men can conquer
them lacking, as men do, unknown frontiers
yet to vanquish;

Ordered chaos is strewn everywhere,
detritus piled up, living jumble of oversized
matchsticks awaiting one careless spark; yet
when fires once regularly swept through
these forests (lightning-scarred trunks bearing
witness), the strongest survived and soil
was enriched, carbon craved by undergrowth, layer
upon layer assuring futures for generations
mirroring the content of life on the surface
of a planet defined by science but experienced
as a living poetry only nature can inscribe.

Day Sail

Wavelets snap and turn
in the sunlight, deceiving eyes
into believing there are creatures
emerging from the depths;

Strands of kelp curve and twist
like the wake of a ship, glinting
just enough to hint at sea otters
frolicking in welcome brilliance;

Markers the novice misses, looking
too hard and long while gulls
soar and dive in the distance
and this, only this indicates activity
worthy of the quest;

As the sloop approaches the kerfuffle,
a rank sea smell overwhelms the senses
and I am reminded of our encounter
with a Hawaiian monk seal detected
by aura alone on shores too distant
for ancestors to comprehend traversing.

All photos 2019 ©Bela Johnson

Travelogue 1: Pacific Northwest Revisited

I am disinclined to travel these days, preferring to remain in the half-acre gardens I have created with my own hands these past five years. Yet on the spur of the moment, I agreed to a three-week house and pet sitting gig for dear friend in one of my favorite places to visit, the Pacific Northwest. Being springtime, I knew the weather might be dicey. But after surges of early summer heat in Hawaii, I was looking forward to some relief.

Lucky for me I adapted fairly quickly, taking a couple of days to rest and acclimate, going from needing seventy degrees indoors to keep my teeth from chattering and my muscles from tightening up to sixty-five two days later, then simply let the temperature be what it would be. Four days from my arrival, the sun broke through predictably platinum skies.

Every day so far, I have gone out hiking. Old growth forests draw me in with their majestic beauty; beaches, though breezy and quite chilly this time of year, offer expanses of space in which to contemplate horizons yet to be realized, literally and figuratively. I never know what to expect from solitude in unfamiliar places, and this journey shook me down further, rattling out fears and patterns not usually obvious in my everyday routine. It’s good to dislodge the demons, to venture forth and discover that life perpetually surprises.

When I travel, I follow my nose whenever possible. Being lost brings me the most interesting adventures. The first place I stumbled upon was a beach in the early morning, a lone older man sitting in a folding chair close to the shoreline, fishing pole propped in the sand, stiff wind notwithstanding. I walked a few hundred feet toward him, but he seemed disinclined to chat, likely preferring the solitude I, myself treasure. As I turned to go, an eagle swooped over my shoulder, seagulls in screaming hot pursuit. The harassment likely annoyed the eagle who was doubtlessly tending a nest nearby. Houses lined the upper portion of the beach, separated by a buffer of driftwood typical in this part of the world. The eagle landed on a familiar rooftop and I knew this because of the streaks of white dribbling from the ridgeline. Anchored in strong talons, she began tearing apart the fish she had caught, and was left alone for a few minutes until one persistent scavenger alighted a few feet behind her. Having had enough at that point, she fled to the tall conifers. And I returned to my rental car, switched on Apple Maps to figure out where I’d gotten to, and headed out to hike a nearby forest trail.

iPhone shots taken from a distance are not ideal. Still, you can see the snow-capped Cascade Mountain Range, a cropped shot of the fisherman, and a crop of the rooftop eagle.

A Day for The Earth

There are snapshots in time, places where
one feels the eyes scratching over the surface
of some offensive scene, cymbals clashing
inappropriately during a tender interlude,
spell dissolved in the cacophony, never
to return again free of that memory;

Then there are backdrops nature paints
without premeditation, figures juxtaposed
against a canvas that can only contribute
to the light in one’s own eyes, the numinous
shining through, and I know in the center
of my bones that we must preserve this place,
its atmosphere beyond measure or means
by which we could precisely calibrate
how our human impact has contributed
to its degradation;

All we have is now, no time for regret,
rather embrace what we can do from
this moment into moments mounding,
overlapping, mindfully repeating
like a prayer to infinity.

All photos ©2019 Bela Johnson

Wound Mending

The crescent mark left by a garden knife
is slowly mending, unresisting as I cleave
yet another lifted layer of my own skin
from its center until a proper feeling
of softness returns to adjacent banks
of that once-jagged riverbed;

Like one’s own feelings repeatedly
disregarded, trauma inflicted by those
unaware of consequences, of actions
and words cast carelessly about
like roadside refuse, transformation
taken back by my own hands becomes
a thing of beauty, weaving words
into textiles for the fabric
of the soul, spinning veils
of verbiage into mantles fit
for undefended hearts.