VILLAGE ACHE

To bear it is intolerable
this sacred wound no one talks about

The one that shakes the body
writhing with entombed remembrances
when no one is looking

I won’t talk about it if you don’t—
I don’t want to hurt
so spiritually in front of anyone

It makes sense that the forgetting
is necessary
and a genius freneticism
colludes to hide it

How many masks mask it?

Righteousness and a lever of power
will not cure it
and it will not even help to win

The village center lying beneath
the tangled knot is watered with tears
and knows not winning

Despite the longings, the sound of splitting
has not reached its end
and will echo through
what used to be called years—
Time isn’t what it used to be

Old pressures proclaim their independence
and follow their own trajectory

A Star has claimed them
and requires fulfillment—
Infections will enact stunning memories,
symptoms will proliferate
incontinental divides will reveal
an all-wrenching deepening

until the soil erupts
and we can smell again
with a thirst for humility and wild water

Until what is, is marked
and put in the circle

Until we stop imprisoning our We-ness
inside the dark tower of the human
exiling our sweetest intimacies

Until we relinquish the one story
and see the unseen power
in not being seen in the wrong room

Until we understand
this cannot be understood
by a strategy of conquest

Only then will the third thing spring
from the forest duff of us

like the fruit of an underground network
of invisibilities

Even now and now
in the middle of a root-red autumn night

clouds conspire and begin precipitating
a lawless wondering:

What could possibly bring us back
but a ripe and relentless
geo-mystical cracking?

#ryanvanlenning

CONVERSATIONS WITH AN ARCHITECT

4B67CF69-D644-4047-AFE1-0D787F9BA851When will you start talking
about the things
you can’t talk about?

Not now, I’ve got rocks to collect.

Not tomorrow either.

It’s a busy week
and something else
(anything else)
demands my attention

Besides, the sacred wounds
will be there
when I get home.

Which home?

That’s not a fair question,
I’ll deflect it
and ask you some riddle.

It doesn’t work like that,
I hear you saying
in words I push in your mouth

While I chew on new willow buds
chew on your words.

When really what you said
was just what you said.

Sometimes we choose not to hear.

And then that awe-full echo
amidst the rippled silence
like always.

Sometimes I wish you’d
just raise your voice
raise your blood
raise your anything

and meet my winter-rivered
holy rage.

But you just declare:

All the foundations are there
Why don’t you put up walls?

This is a metaphor. This is not
a metaphor. This is not
the metaphor I want it to be

Not now, I’ve got work to do
got work to avoid.

Walls and a few windows perhaps?

You know I fear four-walled thinking.

But it’s not fear of walls
and windows
that’s stolen your hammer
and nails.

What are you talking about?

In order to put up walls
you’ve got to tear down walls.

Oh fuck. You devil
you angel. Where’s my sledgehammer?

That’s a good start.

DEAR MUD

94D3D73F-7BA0-4E5E-BAAD-81D240BB3084Dear mud,

This is a hard letter to write.

You know how there is a season for everything? I feel
we were meant to be a season
for each other,
not a lifetime.

I do love you. You were
such an important
part of my journey.

But I can’t choose you. I’m sorry our paths aren’t aligned
any longer.

I so appreciate you
and what you bring to the world.

You are such a phenomenal force of nature!

You taught me so much,
about the trail of life
and about the trail of myself.

You showed me how
to slow down.

To really be with things.

You showed me where I’d been.

To
be
careful
where
I
step.

But also how not to be afraid
of really getting in there
and getting dirty.

Oh I’ll always remember the way we mucked each other!

So slow and sensual,
so earthy and juicy,
so alive.

You showed me the texture
of my sacred shining wounds.

Where I was stuck, but also
how to let the words ‘I’m stuck’
fall from my lips
and it be ok.

Yet you also showed
me how to get out.

It starts with saying the truth.
And doesn’t Everything come back to that?

And the truth is
I can’t do this anymore—
There’s a path ahead
I need to explore
on my own.

So I have to say goodbye now.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.
I forgive you for everything.

I know we did the best we could with the boots and tools we had.

So I’m grabbing the ladder
of my own brave ribs
and with a gigantic sucking heave
pulling myself upward
towards the new sun.

I honor you.
I love you.
Goodbye.

FORGIVEMENT

C5F69B49-5A87-477C-8867-59C768DCDE1FIt’s a bereavement wrapped inside forgiveness

or a forgiveness with a soft accomplishment
wonderment
enlightenment
nourishment

at its core

After all these years, she finds herself
wearing it like a light cloak—for him,
who was supposed to be
a teacher of spiritual things

not all-too-physical things

not things that would have her
doubting and destroying things
into the fifth decade

have her turning this way and that
in the dark labyrinth
always bumping up against walls
with a lump in her throat
 
but mostly she wears it for herself

for not going back in the house
for saying goodbye
to those spirits she grew inside her
but never met fully

for decisions of her too young self

it becomes a torch
when she can hold it steady

She has done her share of kneeling
at the river and lent her tears

and found some measure of flow
as the unspoken things
still make their way to the sea

And it becomes a prayer
lighting the way to the center
where her beloved awaits

#ryanvanlenning
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This poem is included in the new collection ‘Silence Begins Here.’ That and my collection of love and erotic poetry, ‘Wild Rose Hips’, and my polyRiverous celebration of rivers, mountains, and souls ‘Riverever’ will be out later this year. In the meantime, You can get RE-MEMBERING: Poems of Earth & Soul. and High-Cooing Through the Seasons: Haiku From the Forest through your local bookstore, on Amazon or Indiebound, Link in bio. Follow me for mythopoetic inspiration and @wildnatureheart for my heart-centered nature connection & 1-on-1 inner/outer wilderness work. 🙏🌍🤠🦊🌲💚

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)

——————————————————————————————
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?