Alexander Best: Earth Day poems / “Poema al Agua” para El Día de La Tierra

Water water every where...And all the boards did shrink. Water water every where...Nor any drop to drink_Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Handmade Poem
One way
Right way
Lost and pounding
Our way
Human foundling
Maize and
Feed me
Juice of
Miles of
Malls and
Chip off
Old block
– Heed me!
(September 2010)

. . .

Water Sonnet
My love and I go down to the well
With buckets at our waists,
and dip the vessels in, refresh ourselves,
Then give we chase…
The sparkling drench is ours,
Extravagance of simple choice.
We swallow all, we surge and runneth over
By such device.
And liquid Time a-rushing flows,
And tolls the bell for me,
And us – where did our children go?
Could we abandoned be?
My love and I went down to the well
And turned our buckets over;
And sat upon them;
Sighed and waited
– waited, sighed –
(September 2010)
. . .

Poema al Agua
Mi amada y yo, vamos al pozo
Con cántaros a la cintura,
Los metemos al agua, nos refrescamos y
luego correteamos…
El líquido brillante que nos empapa es nuestro,
una extravagancia fácil de escoger;
nos la tomamos, resurgimos y
nos dejamos atropellar por tal método.
Y el Tiempo líquido corre y nos toca la campana
¿Y vosotros— adónde fueron vuestros hijos?
¿Hemos sido abandonados tal vez?
Mi amada y yo fuimos al pozo,
Pusimos nuestros cántaros boca abajo
y nos sentamos en ellos;
Suspiramos y esperamos – esperamos, suspiramos
Para siempre.

Traducción al español: Lidia García Garay

. . .

ZP Editor’s note:
I wrote the two poems above at the request of Kate Castelo, a friend who lives in Vancouver. She was involved in a climate-change awareness initiative in British Columbia in the autumn of 2010, and “engaged” poetry reflecting on global development, pollution, and natural resource use/abuse, was sought by the organizers. The Kyoto Protocol was much in the news five years ago, and every issue is still current and of great concern. My second poem (“Water Sonnet”) I composed in a lovely traditional metre which contrasts all the more with the poem’s theme: Canada’s longstanding cultural tradition of taking Water for granted. My translation mentor, Lidia García Garay, kindly created a Spanish version of the poem…
The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty extending the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits State Parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the premise that A. Global Warming does exist, and that B. Man-made CO2 Emissions have caused it.

The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in December of 1997, and entered into force in February of 2005. There are currently 192 Parties (Canada withdrew, effective December 2012) to the Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to “a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” (Article 2). It is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Negotiations were held in Lima in 2014 to agree on a post-Kyoto legal framework that would obligate all major polluters to pay for CO2 emissions. China, India, and the United States have all signaled that they will not ratify any treaty that will commit them legally to reduce CO2 emissions.

. . .

Other Earth Day features at Zócalo Poets:


. . . . .

Poems for Earth Day + A Meditation on Extinction by Duane Taylor

Passenger Pigeons by James John Audubon (1785-1851)

Passenger Pigeons by James John Audubon (1785-1851)


Duane Taylor, a Health Sciences student in Toronto, is our Zócalo Poets Guest Editor for Earth Day 2014.  He sent us the following “contemplation” (with poems):

.     .     .
In the poem, ‘In Memoriam, AHH’, Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) memorializes his dear friend, Arthur Hallam. Tennyson questions what the loss of a single life or a whole species means to God and Nature. Like many of his contemporaries, Tennyson spoke of a conflict between his faith and the then-novel idea of Evolution – though it had not yet been named as that.
Tennyson’s conflict was somewhat different than the one we’d likely find today—there was no question of God’s place in the universe. The being whose place was being called into question was Man’s.


Alfred Tennyson
In Memoriam A. H. H. (1849)
[ excerpt ]
The wish, that of the living whole
No life may fail beyond the grave,
Derives it not from what we have
The likest God within the soul?

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;

That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,

I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
That slope thro’ darkness up to God,

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.

‘So careful of the type?’ but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, ‘A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.

‘Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.’ And he, shall he,

Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law?
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed?

Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal’d within the iron hills?

No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match’d with him.
O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.

.     .     .

In Christian theology, mankind is the pinnacle of Creation, the one who has been given dominion over all living things and the Earth, the one to whom, after God, all must bow.
But the theory of Evolution tells us, as it told Tennyson, that mankind is just one of countless species, or ‘types’, that has existed and will die and be replaced. Man’s time at the pinnacle is fleeting; after he is gone the earth will endure and more types will follow.
We see this truth set literally in stone; fossils speak of animals that no longer live. Moreover, they tell us of species so entirely absent that all of the species related to them, all of the species they saw, lived with and ate, are gone too. Entire worlds replaced at the rate of a few types at a time.
So little does Nature care for the type that it is estimated that 99.9% of all of the species that have ever existed are extinct.
One of these species was the Passenger Pigeon.

Prior to the 20th century, the Passenger Pigeon was a familiar sight, much like the Rock Dove (the ‘pigeons’ which are found in cities worldwide) is today. On their own, they were somewhat unremarkable birds. However, with a single exception, Passenger Pigeons were never on their own.
They existed in numbers that are impossible to conceive for us now. Billions of birds blackened the skies as they migrated across the North American continent.
They were so numerous that giant trees, overloaded with roosting birds, splintered and broke under the weight. A flock once took three days to pass overhead. In one grouping, the naturalist Alexander Wilson estimated there were 2,230,272,000 individuals – approximately eight times the total population of Rock Pigeons in the world.
And yet, as with all living things, they went.

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan_Where is that Vanished Bird? (The Passenger Pigeon)_photomontage, 2007

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan_Where is that Vanished Bird? (The Passenger Pigeon)_photomontage, 2007

.     .     .

Jenny McBride (Chicago, USA)
Nature is Dying

“Nature is dying,” said the doctor.
I already knew
About the huge flocks of birds
There used to be,
He said prothonotaries filling a tree
In the city where he grew up.
One of his friends
Told of Dakota blackbird flocks
Miles long, took hours to pass
“A long time ago.” said the doctor
But he’s less than 80.
But I hadn’t even heard about monarchs
Thick, even coming smack through the city
Sheets of orange butterflies.
“Nature is dying,” said the doctor.
“We’re trying to save her but…
“I’m not sure how good a job we’re doing.”
Even I’ve seen eternal lights go out
And I’m not half his age.
Those who are half my age, teens now
May mark the last phase of the change.
“Nature is dying,” said the doctor.
Nothing I didn’t know
Except that monarchs used to migrate
Right through Chicago
As if it weren’t even there.
We’re trying to save her
But it’s a struggle of attrition.

.     .     .

In much the same way it would be inconceivable to us that the ubiquitous rock doves could ever disappear, it was inconceivable to the people of the time that their Passenger Pigeons could ever disappear.

But through hunting and habitat destruction, over the course of fifty years, the flocks of billions were winnowed down to a single life.

This single life, like Tennyson’s friend toward whom Nature was so careless, had a name: Martha. She was a 29-year old female, who spent her final years in the Cincinnati Zoo. She was an ‘endling’, the term given to the last known member of a species.  Martha died on September 1st, 1914. It’s sometimes said that the Passenger Pigeon is the only species whose exact time and place of extinction is known.
While the idea is poetic, it isn’t necessarily true.
For many species, prior to the final extinction, there is what’s known as a functional extinction. This is when a species has declined past any hope of recovery. This can happen when there are too few members of a species left, as it did with the Passenger Pigeon.  Martha may have been the last single life of her type in September of 1914 , but her type had met its true end some unknown years hence, when the last fifty, forty or ten birds were shot in some unknown forest, field or plain. No one but God or Nature will ever know.
Still, the simplicity of a species ending at a precise time and date, like the period at the end of a sentence rather than an ellipsis, is a beautiful idea.
We can’t know when our own functional extinction will come, but, as with “In Memoriam, A.H.H”, we find answers in verse.

Woolly Mammoth and Cro-Magnon Boy, a 21st-century "cave drawing"

Woolly Mammoth and Cro-Magnon Boy, a 21st-century “cave drawing”

.     .     .
Archibald Lampman (1861-1899) was one of the late 19th-century Canadian poets who would come to be known as The Confederation Poets.
He wrote “The City at the End of Things” as an elegy for a natural world that had been destroyed by urbanization. Mankind’s ‘endling’ makes an appearance, and the poem suggests that in destroying Nature we destroy ourselves.


Archibald Lampman
The City at the End of Things (1899)
Beside the pounding cataracts
Of midnight streams unknown to us
‘Tis builded in the leafless tracts
And valleys huge of Tartarus.
Lurid and lofty and vast it seems;
It hath no rounded name that rings,
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of the End of Things.
Its roofs and iron towers have grown
None knoweth how high within the night,
But in its murky streets far down
A flaming terrible and bright
Shakes all the stalking shadows there,
Across the walls, across the floors,
And shifts upon the upper air
From out a thousand furnace doors;
And all the while an awful sound
Keeps roaring on continually,
And crashes in the ceaseless round
Of a gigantic harmony.
Through its grim depths re-echoing
And all its weary height of walls,
With measured roar and iron ring,
The inhuman music lifts and falls.
Where no thing rests and no man is,
And only fire and night hold sway;
The beat, the thunder and the hiss
Cease not, and change not, night nor day.
And moving at unheard commands,
The abysses and vast fires between,
Flit figures that with clanking hands
Obey a hideous routine;
They are not flesh, they are not bone,
They see not with the human eye,
And from their iron lips is blown
A dreadful and monotonous cry;
And whoso of our mortal race
Should find that city unaware,
Lean Death would smite him face to face,
And blanch him with its venomed air:
Or caught by the terrific spell,
Each thread of memory snapt and cut,
His soul would shrivel and its shell
Go rattling like an empty nut.

It was not always so, but once,
In days that no man thinks upon,
Fair voices echoed from its stones,
The light above it leaped and shone:
Once there were multitudes of men,
That built that city in their pride,
Until its might was made, and then
They withered age by age and died.
But now of that prodigious race,
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the masters of its power;
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories;
Fast rooted to the lurid floor,
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more,
Or mind or soul – an idiot!
But sometime in the end those three
Shall perish and their hands be still,
And with the master’s touch shall flee
Their incommunicable skill.
A stillness absolute as death
Along the slacking wheels shall lie,
And, flagging at a single breath,
The fires shall moulder out and die.
The roar shall vanish at its height,
And over that tremendous town
The silence of eternal night
Shall gather close and settle down.
All its grim grandeur, tower and hall,
Shall be abandoned utterly,
And into rust and dust shall fall
From century to century;
Nor ever living thing shall grow,
Nor trunk of tree, nor blade of grass;
No drop shall fall, no wind shall blow,
Nor sound of any foot shall pass:
Alone of its accursèd state,
One thing the hand of Time shall spare,
For the grim Idiot at the gate
Is deathless and eternal there.

August Rodin_Le Penseur or The Thinker (seen here in the rain)_a 1904 bronze-cast sculpture at the Musée Rodin,  Paris_photograph by Innoxiuss

August Rodin_Le Penseur or The Thinker (seen here in the rain)_a 1904 bronze-cast sculpture at the Musée Rodin, Paris_photograph by Innoxiuss

And once that last grinning ‘endling’ is gone and mankind, like the Passenger Pigeon, is a memory of Nature, what remains?

T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”, and its final stanza, present us with one of our possible futures.

T.S. Eliot
The Hollow Men (1925)

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

.     .     .     .     .

Earth Day poems: “I’ve wanted to speak to the world for sometime now about you.”

ZP_Hieracium caespitosum

Maurice Kenny   (Mohawk poet and teacher, born 1929)

new song


We are turning

eagles wheeling sky

We are rounding

sun moving in the air

We are listening

to old stories

Our spirits to the breeze

the voices are speaking

Our hearts touch earth

and feel dance in our feet

Our minds in clear thought

we speak the old words

We will remember everything

knowing who we are

We will touch our children

and they will dance and sing

As eagle turns, sun rises, winds blow,

ancestors, be our guides

Into new bloodless tomorrows.

.     .     .




night/ and not

even rain could

stop love-


in shadows


street unbuckled

rain slid down neck/


exposed to hands

all elements/

ancient mouth

tender as thistle-down

swallowed centuries


spent urgency


life re-newed/continues

stories are told

under winter moons

big orange melons

purple plums


Seminoles dance in this light


Comanches dance in this light

celebrate, too/together

fixed in sweat/suction

of flesh to flesh

celebrate, too


rain/ and rain

washes sky clean


is green

green sun, green moon, green dreams

and there is only

the good feeling


now to sleep

.     .     .

curt suggests


Passing through,

wolf presses snow,


as though winter moon

washed the fallen snow

drifting the mountain slope.


He howls

and I’m assured things

of the old mountain will

not only stay but survive.

It is all about survival…

not the internet, online

or standing, waiting for a big mac.

Humans have survived,

some say, perhaps too long.

Beauty. Nobility. Poetry.

Rewards for the warrior

who brought the village fire.


Wolf is always hunting.

Winter is long and frozen,

dark and deadly dangerous.

Farmers are armed.

Sleep without fat is eternal

and pups are bones in enemy’s teeth.


The politic is not the language,

not even the song belongs to the voice

until fires are built, walls erected

and it is safe to sleep. Then sing.


Raccoon falls from the elm,

a high branch.

Wolf watches from the hill.

Vocables quaver.

Rocks learn to sing

in the water of the swift river.

Now we stand erect

and walk through the green woods.

Our songs are safely sculpted

into ice and pray

it won’t melt

to the touch of the ear bending to echoes.


I don’t care if you are only passing

through these woods.  Stay.

.     .     .



I’ve wanted to speak to the world

for sometime now about you.

There are many who confuse you with another wild

flower which is, in truth,

no relation not even

a distant, kissing cousin.

You don’t even look alike

nor survive in the same country-side.

Many people claim you are Indian

Paint Brush. Just today

a friend spotted your bloom

decorating the roadside grasses

and called out… “O there’s a beauty…

a paint brush.” I had

to explain the brush blooms

out west…Oklahoma…and

is red.  Period.


You, on the other hand,

blossom here in the east

and your bloom is fire-

red or orange and sometimes

yellow and you came on the

Mayflower with the others

from across the seas.


Farmers think the hawk eats

your blossoms for sight,

vision, but we’re happy

you show up every spring

on the roadside or in the field

bringing colour to morning

though dotted with dew

or snake-spittle, bee-balm.

Up here in the Adirondacks

I’ve seen you rise in snow

when April/May arrived late.


Well, all I’ve really got

to say is if the farmer is right

then the red-tail is pretty smart

and deserves your sight.

Now we have to get the the other

humans to admit just who you are.

.     .     .     .     .

All poems © Maurice Kenny, from his collection In the Time of the Present (2000)

Photograph:  Hieracium caespitosum a.k.a. meadow or field hawkweed

Poems for Earth Day: “The earth of my blood”: O’Connor, Ben the Dancer, La Fortune

ZP_Mother Earth_stonecut from 1961 by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)

ZP_Mother Earth_stonecut from 1961 by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)

Lawrence William O’Connor (Winnebago poet)

“O Mother Earth”


Never will I plough the earth.

I would be ripping open the breast of my mother.


Never will I foul the rivers.

I would be poisoning the veins of my mother.


Never will I cut down the trees.

I would be breaking off the arms of my mother.


Never will I pollute the air.

I would be contaminating the breath of my mother.


Never will I strip-mine the land.

I would be tearing off her clothes, leaving her naked.


Never will I kill the wild animals for no reason.

I would be murdering her children, my own brothers and sisters.


Never will I disrespect the earth in anyway.

Always will I walk in beauty upon the earth my mother,

Under the sky my father,

In the warmth of the sun my sister,

Through the glow of the moon my brother.

.     .     .

Ben the Dancer (Yankton Lakota-Sioux, Rosebud (Sicangu), South Dakota)

“My Rug Maker Fine”


slowly as I laid my head

upon his chest

the rain outside beckoned

for me to kiss him

we forgot the names that were called

and as I looked into his deep brown eyes

I saw the earth of his people

the earth of his blood

and the earth of his birth

looking at me


there was much to be said

on that rainy night

but talking came secondary

and not much was said

some names were meant to scald

they can break steadfast ties

then I heard the earth of his people

the earth of his blood

and the earth of his birth

telling me


he left on that rainy night

without a kiss

he went home forever

the rain beckoned at him to go

the earth of his people told me

he was going home

the earth of his blood called him

to come home

and the earth of his birth took him

from me


oh how my heart went on a dizzy flight

I will him miss

knowing this was going to sever

our hearts and leave a hole

I know the drum of his people

that called him home

I feel the pulse of his blood

that drew him there

I smell the scent of his birth

that made me let him go


I have endured the name

the scalding brand

I stand on my own feet now

the earth of my people

the earth of my blood

and the earth of my birth

told me to let you go

I listened

I know now

and we are free.

.     .     .

Richard La Fortune/Anguksuar (Yupik Eskimo, born 1960, Bethel, Kuskokvagmiut, Alaska)


I have picked a bouquet for you:

I picked the sky,

I picked the wind,

I picked the prairies with their waving grasses,

I picked the woods, the rivers, brooks and lakes,

I picked the deer, the wildcat, the birds and small animals.

I picked the rain – I know you love the rain,

I picked the summer stars,

I picked the sunshine and the moonlight,

I picked the mountains and the oceans with their mighty waters.

I know it’s a big bouquet, but open your arms wide;

    you can hold all of it and more besides.


Your mind and your love will

    let you hold all of this creation.

.     .     .     .     .

All poems © each poet:  Lawrence William O’Connor, Ben the Dancer, Richard La Fortune

Selections are from a compilation of “Gay American Indian” (including Lesbian and Two-Spirits) poetry, short stories and essays –  Living the Spirit – published in 1988.

Poems for Earth Day: Rita Joe’s “Mother Earth’s Hair”, “There is Life Everywhere” and “When I am gone”

ZP_Mother Earth as seen by modern science (Mercator projection)

ZP_Mother Earth as seen by modern science (Mercator projection)

Rita Joe (Mi’kmaw poet, 1932-2007)

“Mother Earth’s Hair”


In August 1989 my husband and I were in Maine

Where he died, I went home alone in pain.

We had visited each reservation we knew

Making many friends, today I still know.

Near a road a woman was sitting on the ground

She was carefully picking strands of grass

Discarding some, holding others straight

I asked why was she picking so much.

She said, “They are ten dollars a pound.”

My husband and I sat alongside of her, becoming friends.

A bundle my husband picked then, later my treasure.

I know, as all L’nu’k* know,

that sweetgrass is mother earth’s hair

So dear in my mind my husband picking shyly for me

Which he never did before, in two days he will leave me.

Today as in all days I smell sweetgrass, I think of him

Sitting there so shy, the picture remains dear.


*L’nu = an Aboriginal person

.     .     .

“There is Life Everywhere”


The ever-moving leaves of a poplar tree lessened my anxiety as I walked through the woods trying to make my mind work on a particular task I was worried about. The ever-moving leaves I touched with care, all the while talking to the tree. “Help me,” I said. There is no help from anywhere, the moving story I want to share. There is a belief that all trees, rocks, anything that grows, is alive, helps us in a way that no man can ever perceive, let alone even imagine. I am a Mi’kmaw woman who has lived a long time and know which is true and not true, you only try if you do not believe, I did, that is why my belief is so convincing to myself. There was a time when I was a little girl, my mother and father had both died and living at yet another foster home which was far away from a native community. The nearest neighbours were non-native and their children never went near our house, though I went to their school and got along with everybody, they still did not go near our home. It was at this time I was so lonely and wanted to play with other children my age which was twelve at the time. I began to experience unusual happiness when I lay on the ground near a brook just a few metres from our yard. At first I lay listening to the water, it seemed to be speaking to me with a comforting tone, a lullaby at times. Finally I moved my playhouse near it to be sure I never missed the comfort from it. Then I developed a friendship with a tree near the brook, the tree was just there, I touched the outside bark, the leaves I did not tear but caressed. A comforting feeling spread over me like warmth, a feeling you cannot experience unless you believe, that belief came when I was saddest. The sadness did not return after I knew that comfortable unity I shared with all living animals, birds, even the well I drew water from. I talked to every bird I saw, the trees received the most hugs. Even today I am sixty-six years old, they do not know the unconditional freedom I have experienced from the knowledge of knowing that this is possible. Try it and see. There is life everywhere, treat it as it is, it will not let you down.

.     .     .

“When I am gone”


The leaves of the tree will shiver

Because aspen was a friend one time.

Black spruce, her arms will lay low

And across the sky the eagles fly.

The mountains be still

Their wares one time like painted pyramids.

All gold, orange, red splash like we use on face.

The trees do their dances for show

Like once when she spoke

I love you all.

Her moccasin trod so softly, touching mother

The rocks had auras after her sweat

The grass so clean, she pressed it to cheek

Every blade so clean like He wants you to see.

The purification complete.

“Kisu’lkw” you are so good to me.

I leave a memory of laughing stars

Spread across the sky at night.

Try counting, no end, that’s me – no end.

Just look at the leaves of any tree, they shiver

That was my friend, now yours

Poetry is my tool, I write.

.     .     .     .     .

For more of Rita Joe’s poems please see our April 11th posts…