Saturday, July 1, 2017

we must gentle our touch upon the world

the woods can shout

a Native American prayer I like
asks the Great Spirit to help me learn the lessons
hidden in every leaf and rock,
I have long worked to open myself
to learning to read the woods,
rock and water tell stories that feel obvious,
as do flowers, animals, sunrise, and sunset,

there is also subtlety within a story:
a great rock moved in the high water of a storm,

The rock moved ten feet in a storm about ten years ago.

Here is the space the huge rock came from.

a lichen, liverwort, whose lives dwarf my own,

 now the woods shout a story at me:
a great fire roared across the forest
and nearly consumed the home we’ve built
abrupt against the woods and stream,

I understand how months of precious little rain
desiccated leaf litter and down branches,
how an insect killed countless hemlock
and served them to the fire,

I understand how wind roared so loud
that the fire was a blowtorch
and everything downwind of the flame
wanted to give up its ghost,

now, half a year later,
other winds have roared their story
and tree after tree have given up their ghosts,
bewildering the trails above the cabin
into near impenetrable tangle,
calling for chainsawing to clear the paths,

my life is a bit more than 2/3 of a century long so far,
and I have never seen the pages of the woods
so clearly shouting a story that something is wrong,
that we need to wake up,
and gentle our touch upon the world,

for we have stepped out of the comfortable story
and roiled the inputs into what can then be chaos for us.

by Henry H. Walker
June 24, ’17

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