AT THE DAWN OF TIME

111B8BFC-EE21-4D35-A6B8-7E5D5AABCFB1National Writing Month DAY 30 (Final Day!!)
AT THE DAWN OF TIME
(Word Count: 1045)

In the distance looms Mt. Diablo. Not as shadow, but as guardian. Diablo–but that’s the colonizer word. The Chochenyo Ohlone call it Tuyshtak, which can mean ‘at the dawn of time.’ I learned this at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival from Vincent Medina, a local Muwekma Ohlone poet. He is a leader in reviving the traditional language, & now a co-owner of the new Ohlone Cafe in so-called Berkeley.

What a difference in meaning of those two words: Devil and Dawn.

Tuyshtak is the roof of the East Bay and I can view it from the roof of my home, which is a madrone- and oak-lined ridge above a canyon full of bay laurel, horsetails, flowering currants, poison oak (I call it guardian oak), & redwoods, after which the park is named.

Perhaps we should start calling it by its pre-colonial name. Perhaps all names should be decolonized as we re-sacralize the land. As we re-dream our relationsip to the world-than-human world out of which we emerge.

How ironic I find a deeper connection to the land and indigenous history & a deeper commitment to decolonizing work as I squat illegally on the land in a local public park.

But aren’t we all settlers?

I feel we’ve lost something. Perhaps on some level we all know we’ve lost something. I am dreaming into living/doing/being a new-old way. I want to re-member. I want to re-connect to those ancient pulses in our bloods & bones. I want to re-wild & re-set. I yearn for something real. I want to breathe in & out the Deep Be-Longing.

Something in me is dawning. I don’t pretend I’m living some ancient lifestyle, w/ my REI gear and solar Luci lights. But I find that the more I befriend the trees & water & birds here, the more I greet the dawn, the more I slow down & LISTEN, the more that beautiful dream flows out of me/through me & becomes the real thing—the thing that doesn’t lie, more real than the bad dream of this dominant/dominator culture.

Perhaps this is the beginning of what is meant by right belonging & right relationship–and I find there’s a depth and peace in it. I vow to keep listening. (Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

From Inside These Wild Ones

125B1937-D207-4AEE-9E22-F3F10E7432E1I’d apologize
but that isn’t what bears do
and that is what I’ve become

For a summer day my fists turned into paws—
THAT anyone could understand.

But if it were only a day
then why now does my snout
draw itself towards the winter cave
sitting on a canyon hip
like a tea cup
about to pour itself
into my hibernating belly?

Why does fur cover my body like an old-growth forest
and why does the scent of the woman
a half mile down canyon
enter me like a sword of truth?

That turtle-bear in me is slow and steady
because I’m already where I’m at
I carry my home and the weight is significant
but no matter how fast your rabbit-mind,
it will not catch up with my tortoise soul
it’ll have you running circles around yourself
like the great task of Sisyphus

I’d attempt an explanation,
but my words come out as chirps and squawks,
even bright whistles at dawn.

So many birds have landed in me
I fear my tongue is tied
and I can’t feel my arms
without clutching a claw full of feathers
the color of midnight rust
or mid-day blue.

The fear perhaps belongs to the worm in me
but I won’t let that stop the eagle in me
from hunting you

Or the worm in me from hinting to you
how I’ve dug in your soil
and turned you over
how I compost even your darkest
shit
and bring up flowers from it all

You can thank me later
once you’ve managed to blink me out
of your terrible night-time vision

Give up on laws
and let your paws touch the ground
let your beast roam
and sink your claws into me

I won’t act too surprised if you’re glad
when the moon comes out
in the form my eyes can take
once a month
looking at you
like a benevolent lunatic

When they look deep in you
from inside these wild ones
you’ll know—
the ground inside you
will rumble

 

SWEET BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN

3A5E33B5-6B66-4E46-B63F-66BE47646957National Writing Month DAY 29
SWEET BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN
(Word Count: 645)

The mountain is calling me. It is calling me naked into the exposed light, where the vast heat beckons me to crack like scorched soil ready to receive.

I myself must be empty of everything first—Empty of food, empty of distraction, empty of ego, empty of story.

Something in me gives assent. Ok—I’ll dive into the Great Inyo Sea, my name for this strange hybrid mountain-high desert-ocean labyrinth. Ok—I’ll stretch myself from horizon to horizon, until my soul image pops out in high relief, like shards of obsidian from the dry earth floor.

Somehow I already know: all the worlds to which I don’t belong will die in this high desert. I know I will leave them as offerings to the land.

The cracking begins. The mud lake. The mud at the bottom of my being. The shell of my false identities. My fortressed heart.

Oh it hurts—what gorgeous pain is this?

Oh, why is there such sweet beauty in the breakdown?

(Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartsto

THE WOUND AND NOT THE STORY OF THE WOUND

desert2National Writing Month DAY 28: THE WOUND AND NOT THE STORY OF THE WOUND
(Word Count: 1435)

From that high place it appeared a lake, pinkish-white and round with promise—a beautiful mark on the land walled in by red rock and a giant sky.

It asserted itself on me, drew me like a fish fishing the man thrashing.

You’d think a part of me would know about mirages in the desert.

But I needed to touch the wound and not the story of the wound.

So I began the descent. With no dragons or wizards, no wise old ones or magic amulets. Only lizards and a relentless voice that carried my heart ahead of my legs.

My sole companions: Death and all my loves. In our work it is called a Death Lodge, a self-ceremony created to have those final conversations as if you really were dying.

Mine took the form of a walking death lodge. We said the unspoken things that needed to find a purchase in the open air, so it could finally float on up and meet the sun.

“To far, too far.”

“No. Go the distance. This is what you came for.”

“This is foolish.”

“This is the end. This is the beginning.”

Which powers in me were having this debate?

I climbed down, sliding over sandstone, through shadows and old stories, found and gave forgiveness, empty of stomach but full of purpose.

It was too late to turn back now—I must touch the wound, not the story of the wound. I must find the gift inside its pain.

I arrived at noon, my thirst stretched out like dune devils as the sun hovered an inch from my forehead like a rune foretelling troubling things.

My feet found cracked mud—it was no lake. It was not pink, but white like a skeleton—dusty evidence of the gash.

The only water came from my face, forced by the startling realization: the stories, my god how much I’d wasted with stories of the wound, and not the wound itself.

I blessed it with the final tear. I blessed it!! Thank you sacred wound.

Dry and new, I turned towards the arduous ascent with a swollen tongue and a swollen heart.

And I ascended hand over fist with my companions: Death and all my loves, including myself.
(Vulnerable Mountain Heart)

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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

DESERT VOWS

8D0A3FBA-1B67-44A3-B6BA-AC1CAC6AF53ENational Writing Month DAY 26:
DESERT VOWS
(Word Count: 879)

The ceremony really begins when tears of remorse fall into the desert dust, Like a long-awaited thunderstorm releasing all the heavy, old stories. And it ends with tears of joy swelling like the waxing moon.

This is how Life committing to itself looks on my face.

Why some take a wedding walk
and others a funeral march is not for humans to know.

Anointed with essential oils and wearing a desert gown, others hold hands with themselves while carrying a bouquet of sagebrush and mormon tea.

But me? I take a tougher path. I don’t know why. I anoint myself with blood and sweat—wear a torn mountain cloak, and with one hand hold the hand of death and with the other hold a bouquet of heart-shaped rocks.

The Great Inyo mountain sun shines on both with equal regard—the great witness to the vows I am making…Perhaps they are the same for us all:

Thou shall not abandon thyself.

Do you take this Beloved, lovely creature of the earth to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part?

And with an exchange known only in the bones of the land and the wellspring of the heart the Great Yes is born once again within me.
(Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

The Moon Is a Turtle

63441B71-BD40-4650-9DC1-061FD90EEC91The moon is a turtle—
how have you not known before?

How she carries her home across
the parched land one step at a time
a reservoir of soothing elixirs in her silver belly

For the people on the edge
for the people burning at both ends
for the people yearning for relief
for the people fearful of their own wholeness

For you—you who are on the cusp of tremendous things

For she has drunk deeply from the world
and knows how to survive the season—
how have you not understood this before?

How with her Moon-eye-point-of-view
and her pace with peace poured into it
she is not rattled
by the noise that reigns below—how have you not noticed before?

How she buries her song egg
in the sand of the sky
always hatching new songs
intoning the old prayers
of love and change
of light and dark—how have you not heard them like this before?

How she carves a bright life in you
always coming and going—
you can’t make of her a bride
to keep in your house
as an ornament

But you must be the bridemoon yourself
When the moment of cracking arrives
and the sound is a marvel
heard by all the lovers out there
who have their faces turned towards the big sky

You are one of them
You are one of the great lovers
one ear pitched on the horizon
the other turned within the deep well

And you discover the cracking never stops
That it is the cracking that draws the beautiful patterns all over your shell
that you buried in the sand of the sky

You discover that the moon
is a turtle
and you are the moon—how have you not known this before?