Prayer To My Ancestors

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Màhair Ban-Dia;
Athair Dia;
Seanmhair, Seanair;
Àrsaidh Sinnsear…

I hold lights
In my hands,
In silence,
The rain falls…

Golden yellow
Like the warm air,
Spring flowers bursting
Joy from my soul.

Lush green
Leaves growing,
Nourishing grass,
Fresh, healthy.

Luminous red
Hot lava,
Blood of the earth,
Protective sunshine.

Gentle blue,
Salty sea water,
Rivers coursing,
Peaceful rain.

Let my shadows be valued
As much as my light;
Let my light be seen
As much as my shadows.

Guitar string snaps,
A resonate voice
Discordant,
Strange harmony.

The rain falls…
Birds call…
Silence again,
But alone no more.

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The Burnt Tree

*Look closely at the above painting by Vasily Polenov…you will see the camouflaged woman amongst the burnt forest, and the link to the poem.

A tree that was burnt,
Charred black
Deep into his body,
Closed his eyes to dream.

My skin felt crisp,
Sore, dry,
From water lost as tears,
Thirsting for wet breath.

My body became air,
Soaking into
His scorched flesh,
The tree and I, as one.

Bark, wood, skin, meat,
The tree is my body,
And I am his,
Sap, roots, blood, bones.

Water is medicine,
We feel dry,
Burnt, Damaged,
Healing slowly.

We want our leaves
To grow back,
Lush and green,
To wake from the dream.

The Forgotten Moth

Gentle moth, dull and plain,

Discrete amidst the night blooms

Heavy with fragrant nectars

That breathe into her grace.

Little more than powdered air,

Crepe wings dust pollen kisses

At the slightest touch,

But are so easily crushed.

She longs for luminousity:

Pale white evening flowers

And the glowing glass stars,

Yet is condemned to dark nights.

So inoffensive,

Her life of service lies

At the mercy of many:

Pursued, snatched, torn apart.

What beauty here has been forgotten?

 

*All photos by Sara.

A.F.R.I.C.A

A path to freedom is often discovered on broken wings.

For it is through loss and being stripped to the bone of our raw humanness that we discover what we really are, what we can do.

Reaching out for something that seems less than what we have…and yet is so much more.

It is real, a way of life that remembers what life is, and grasps it with the talons of an eagle.

Cry no more, little birds, you are who you are, feel what you feel, go where the wind takes you.

And it is time to fly again.

Storm Song

*Photographs by me.

Where are our friends this year?
We miss their presence
Because they are late arriving,
It’s not the same without them.

These hot days cling to our skins!
When I walk with wind, there is gratitude,
But even the air is dry.
We move slowly,
This season is a slow time,
But alive with a joyfulness
And anticipation.
We wait for them.
We know they will come,
But this year, they are late.

Crisp leaves hang low
On the drooping arms of trees.
Sometimes the rain falls,
Only for a precious moment,
Just enough to quench
The desperation of thirst,
But not the thirst itself.
The dryness of my skin and mouth
Feels like the dryness of those leaves.
One month, two months, three now…
Where are our friends?
When will they come?
It’s not the same without them.

I have found dead birds…
The water of their bodies
Sucked dry.
The kookaburra stares at me,
At the bird,
But he does not call:
He hasn’t seen the black cockatoo,
Or our friends,
He is waiting too.
The frog people do not call.
Bats leave the skies
To dip their bellies and swim
In shrinking waters.
Where are our friends this year?
When will we see them again?

On an unexpected day,
They arrive.
It is late, but they have come.
At first we are still,
Waiting in anticipation
As the thunder rumbles purple
and the lightning hisses
Like snakes in the sky above.
Everyone is still.
Kookaburra calls.
The skies open,
And we greet our friends,
The storm people.
They are late,
But they have come at last.

The shimmer of magic
Moves across the water
As rain greets river,
The rise and fall of
Vibrant voices
Singing from liquid bodies.
They share stories
That only summer storms know,
This rain is itself,
Not winter rain, or spring or autumn.
They are themselves.
This rain cools the burning,
This rain washes away
The sticking heat,
Replacing the water of my body
With its own.
Welcome rain and cloud,
You have come at last
With thunder and lightning.

We can smell the change –
Plants and soil greet the storm
With aromas kept special
For these days.
Every day, you can smell the trees,
But not like this.
This is a language they speak
Only in the summer heat,
And this song
They sing with the storm
For all to hear in their nostrils.
At first, the trees are still,
Drinking into their roots.
But then, the wind sheds its dryness
And joins the song
Dancing, swirling
Into branch, leaf,
Feather, water, skin.
The land rejoices
As the heat sighs itself
Into moisture and scent,
Cool and refreshing…
We welcome our friends,
There is much joy
To see them again.

Welcome summer friends,
We have sorely missed you
And are glad you came.
The whole family
Is relieved to see you again,
Watch how the galahs play
And hear the frog people call.
Magpies stay out in the rain,
We stand together
Beneath the singing sky –
Songs of purple thunder
And hissing snakes of light.
We are wet with rain
And the scents of trees,
Magpie shuffles it into his feathers.
I step into a puddle.
Kookaburra calls.
Black cockatoo flies overhead.
You are late getting here,
But now you have come,
Welcome, summer friends.

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The Butter Tree

*All photographs by me.

Nights beneath the butter tree,

Days so hot and nights set free;

Leather wings flap over me,

The foxy-bats in ecstasy.

Golden blooms of nectar sweet,

Perfume released by the heat,

Offer wing’d foxes a devilish treat

In the boughs above my seat.

Chirping echoes from the tree,

Their voices calling down to me

Announcing hungry rivalry,

Each flower guarded jealously!

Bickering with sounds of fright

Over the bounty in the height,

Featherless wings take to flight,

Vanishing into the summer night.

*A poem about the flying foxes that used to feed in the tree in my garden many years ago. I have always been fascinated by bats, but these guys really take the cake for enchanting the soul with a thick, rich sweetness that drips. I highly recommend the writings of Deborah Bird Rose about this “odd little kinsman“. So vilified are these ecologically critical more-than-human friends that I wonder with a lot of apprehension and concern what the future holds for them. The fate of so many lives and communities – including our own – are intimately wrapped up and entangled with flying fox lives. If ever you feel the call of flying fox magic, there is nothing I enjoy more in summer than watching the flying fox camp fly out, it’s amazing. You learn so much from watching them, like your mind emerges with the bats, fresh and new and ready. Sometimes I wonder if any of the little guys I have cared for are in there, and how they are doing. Good luck little friends!

One of my Grey Headed Flying Fox friends enjoying her favourite food: nectar!

One of the flying foxes forcibly removed from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, and another of my friends – an orphaned pup rescued from a colony in heat distress. Human disturbance and persecution, along with the impacts of climate change continue to be big challenges to the flourishing of Flying Fox lives.