Cayo Santa Maria
(Written in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba in February 2017, right after meditation on the beach)
reaching high up
on to the beach,
like a dream,
like some understanding,
into silent sand
(a galaxy at dawn).
But three pelicans,
bobbing on aquamarine,
Once upon a fast… in the bush
Hungry, I suddenly noticed you’d been observing me,
waiting for me to wake up.
You drew my confused gaze towards you,
as sunbeams caressed tattoos
etched into your silvery bark:
thus an old dancer has her life story revealed,
the skin of youth roughened by resin blisters cracked open
and long recovery from alcohol.
But you wouldn’t leave me there with such beauty.
Your light pulled my eyes to the next balsam fir,
the sister you grew up with.
Remember how you used to laugh together
when the first snows blanketed your feet,
and moose nibbled your toes?
Now at the end of summer,
red squirrels hang upside down from your outstretched arms
to fetch tender cones the whisky jacks overlooked.
But you won’t let me look upwards too long –
that’s not where You reside.
Your light brings me to another sister, a black spruce:
her trunk hidden by tangled twigs catching every ray,
a maze of barren filaments now glowing with your power.
You ask me only to pay attention,
but my fingers fumble, filling the bowl of my pipe.
Tobacco is lit and I blow sacred smoke towards you.
Your light dances, leaping from twig to twig, branch to branch.
You tease my senses, with your hide-go-seek in slow motion.
But then you whisper that you have leaped down from the branches.
I must follow you below,
in the underbrush, in the shadows,
in the damp mud stained by your leafy clothing,
shed every autumn, when the Bear sighs before becoming still.
I don’t want to leave my humble mountaintop.
Your pursed lips and jutting chin
direct me to my shadows, into my darkness,
leading me with a lone beam of afternoon sunlight
to the muddy feet of other sisters,
guarded by crumbling stumps,
who remember past battles to embrace future life.
My footsteps awaken sleeping logs, wearing patchy coats of lichen.
One log used to be a marten, until a spell froze it
and turned its fur into emerald moss.
Its eyes can now recognize Your ineffable presence.
It whispers to me, Be still, Be still.