Symbiosis

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I sit, perched precariously like a rock on a mountain side, or

the tree, whose ancient roots hold tight to cracks in hard granite, its

age unknown to the naked eye

feet dangle, haphazardly over the world’s edge,

barefoot and swollen

dirt clinging to digits bruised and battered,

boots forgotten like yesterday’s dinner

warm thermals carry clean, unbroken air along mountainsides

teasing nostrils with crisp smells only autumn knows,

dirt, decay, growth of new life

solid ground beneath tired bones sustaining life as

eyelids close, heavy with exhaustion,

quieted by the solitude of primordial life,

abundant, encircling

melded together, earth and human

exist as one, souls joined in

meditative silence

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Homecoming

 

“Why do I feel a sense of longing – as if I am trying to find where I belong?”

She replied –

“It is a far memory you seek, it is more than a longing.   It is a journey into your spirit history, the core of your existence.”

-unknown

 

Winds blow at my back as I walk with purpose across frozen snow and ice.   Snowshoes strapped to my feet, ice cleats crunching on the tundra, I breathe deeply into the icy air.   It’s before 7am, and the sun is just beginning to push his way through snow-laden clouds.  Ice pilgrims such as myself stretch out in a lazy line, following the shoreline of Lake Superior towards the frozen sea caves.  For the first time in five years, the caves and lake have frozen, leaving giant stalactites of frozen water clinging to the red sandstone.

The ice pops beneath my feet, shifting as invisible waves move beneath the thick.  Raw beauty stretches for miles across frozen water towards Canada, and the sun begins to kiss a distant island.  Cracks splay out, like thin strands in a spiders web, and my heart stops beating momentarily while fresh splinters move around my feet.

There are few people on the ice this early in the morning.   The silence is familiar, and the tall cliffs, frozen in winter’s grasp, beckon.  The ice is cold, and the air colder still. My hands, frequently out of my thick gloves, are red and sore, as if icy fingers clench my own.  My shadow remains invisible; the sun hasn’t risen high enough in the gray-blue sky to caste my likeness on the ground.   In these moments, I am truly alone.

The winds create an eerie whistle, licking the ice as they move steadily through the caves.   I find myself standing in a burnt red cavern where whirls of different shades of browns and reds caress the billion year old sandstone.    The ice, once brilliant shades of blue water, hangs boldly along the walls of the cliff, reflecting bare sandstone into the abyss.   Small trees cling to the edge, their roots embracing tiny patches of soil while icicles as long as my arms hang from their thin branches.

My face is cold, my bare skin frozen as solid as the ice beneath my feet.  I stand amongst giants of ice and rock and breathe slowly.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.   My heart beats its familiar rhythm, racing through my veins in anticipation.   The sun begins to caste small shadows from the top of the cliff, and the ice at my feet reflects blues and yellows and browns.  My chapped lips begin to curl upwards, as if aware of what is to come.  In a moment of brilliance, my spirit rushes back to me, bringing with it bits of snow and ice and sand and rock.   A collision, filled with the frozen tundra spread before me, fills my entire being, and an audible sigh joins the whistling wind.  The wild spirits of land and water rejoice, and the ancient souls long since gone, release themselves into me.

I am home.

 

 

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

Mystic of the Wildwood

snow covered trees
heavy with brilliant intensity
bow in quiet intention -
Cailleach’s icy breath curls ‘round hoary trees,

          white silence swallows the wildwood

movement,
not winter’s tempest –

          a ghost bird

undulating wings
old as the weald,
a mythical shadow

          aglow in the early bright






© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. 
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and 
photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s 
author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Extirpation, Take 2

Removed,

no longer endangered and

numbering over 800

in a state that totals fifty six thousand odd square miles

handshakes all around, pats on the back –

…an uneasy victory for wolf and man

…to the north, a small island in a great lake,

genetics and climate fight against the

wild icon –

slowly dying, no victory for them, and

handshakes turn to hand wringing,

…another wolf succumbs, a biologist cries –

stripped of protection,

hunters clamor, money flows

and open season begins, once more –

hunters armed with gun and gps,

bullets rip through thick fur and flesh, blood stains the ground –

…the wild howls cease…

…tracked by men for sport, another wall trophy

…a celebration, deliberate and raucous –

who’s overpopulated now?

silence falls,

an unnerving quiet

…deafening

one month down,

two hundred dead

slaughtered

no longer afforded protection by law,

their spirit is released into the air

removed, once more.

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

early bright benediction

rays of light undulate through

purple clouds – a cold wind

swaddled

by a sky set ablaze

white blades of grass –

frost hardened from night’s chill,

suffer without complaint

my lungs rise and fall

in steady rhythm –

purging,

embracing

and a raven regards me,

his thundering stillness my own –

with silent affirmation

he flies

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A New Day

It appears I dropped off the face of earth…swallowed up for days on end, when suddenly, roughly, Gaia spit me back out…

Let me take a moment to tell you what has happened since April.  There was a family wedding; there were illnesses, a new job in another state, traveling back and forth to find an affordable home to live in, packing, packing and more packing.     Then there was the move, followed by unpacking and more unpacking.

Then it happened.

The WALL.   A big cement wall, placed directly between my mind and my pen.  There were no words.   Nothing.  I was empty and couldn’t write.   The block was quite immense, and I am still working my way out of it.  No longer on the rough shores of Lake Superior, there was no place I could escape to, no place where the words would just pour out of me while waves crashed into sandy shores.     No howling winds whipping specks of sand and rock into my skin, embedding me with their timelessness.  It felt like a part of me had been torn off and left behind, and I have only just realized this.

While mourning my loss, I forgot to look at the new beauty that now surrounds me.   Slowly, a tapestry of colors, bright and faded, began to fill my mind.    Hues of life began to swirl around me, holding me tight as Gaia wrapped her strong arms around mine.

I’m on a road of discovery, one that promises to be rich in lore and wisdom.    I know who I am.   I am strong woman.  I am a mother and a wife.  I am confident, wise and powerful in my own right.   Wise.  Powerful.  Strong.  I am not on this road to drive fast.  I am here to walk – to saunter – to learn all I can.   To absorb.  To follow the path of ancestors who long departed this earth, yet still remain, their quiet and steady whispers making their way to my ears.

Awakenings are never easy, and they should never be expected to be.  But as I fill my free moments with books and journals, I can feel the earth move beneath me, swelling like a great pregnant belly.  Last night’s Harvest Moon remained behind the clouds throughout the night, but her strength filled me with a calming peace.

The WALL is crumbling.

We shall see where this takes me.   Enjoy the journey.

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Land of Poets

I stand tall on the large sea vessel, a cruise ship decked with tourists, workers and cars.    The noise within the ship is loud, the voices of hundreds of people jumbled together into monotonous tones.   Out on the deck, the wind whips my red hair while the sea sprays salt onto my exposed skin.   The Irish Sea is calm today and as we head west, I see the country of my ancestors.   As the winds continue to blow, my grandmother, many generations older, appears before me, as if rising from the sea, as if welcoming me home.   Her dress, plain in its browns and checked pattern, moves slightly as the wind caresses the homespun material.   Her eyes are weary, yet she smiles, arms outstretched, waiting for me, guiding me to the land of her birth.

Only part of my bloodline traces back to Ireland, but the isle of Eire has beckoned me since I was a child.    In all its wild beauty – the greens of the mountains, the rock-strewn hills and fields, the abandoned monasteries and monuments to lives lost in the great famine, I am home.   As I travel west across the tiny country, my senses are filled with great urgency.   I want to inhale the land that beckons me, while the sirens from the sea call my name.   With no plan, no itinerary, I let my heart chose my next destination:

Inis Mhor, Arran Island.

Within a day of entering Ireland, my voice adapted to its surroundings, quickly accepting the tongue of my ancestors.  I am my grandmother, more than once removed, as she is me.  Here, on the small island of Inis Mhor, a thick brogue rises in my throat, my pattern of speech broken and distant from its midwestern roots and unrecognizable to my parents.  My Gaelic heritage, silently buried within me, has broken free.

Off the coast of Galway, where the winds blow loud and fierce and men huddle beneath woolen jackets, their caps pulled tightly over their ears; I have found what I am looking for.  Every word I utter is thick in Irish cadence.  My words have slowed to match the passage of time.   Calmness surrounds me; peace has entered my soul.  I have inhaled my island.  My skin has been kissed by the salt from the sea, my hair curled by the winds blown across barren lands.  My feet, blistered and sore, have pounded the same ground the ancients walked thousands of years ago.   Every exhalation blends with the air that blows across thatched hut and rock wall, tying me to the sacredness of place.

Today, the Irish brogue has been lost to memories.  My journal sits to the side, waiting to be used once more.   But, I close my eyes and breathe, slowly.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I can smell the sea, feel with wind in my hair and taste the salt blown across rough waters on my lips.  My feet once more find themselves walking on hallowed ground dotted with ancient ceremonial stone circles.   Today, while fresh snow rests outside my window, I honor my ancestors.  I remember their struggles.  I light a candle, and with serene whispers, I remember those who were driven from their lands, their beliefs held tightly in their hearts.

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Hades Blaze

…a response to the 2012 Upper Peninsula, Michigan wildfires… 

sand, untouched by rain,

encases naked toes burnt by grainy kisses

cheeks flush flame red, a

days play sun-scorched –

innocent laughter races through smoky skies

sunsets smolder, a horizon engulfed

swallowed by unwelcome heat

jack pines shatter –

their needles as dry as the harsh air suffocating my lungs

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Brighid’s* Rebirth

I find myself deep within the wood, surrounded by ancient pines and young oaks.   Green shoots fight their way through an ice and snow encrusted landscape, their tiny leaves a testament to their desire for life.    Cold winds howl from the north, refusing to let go their grasp on winter, while heavy branches release deep moans into the brisk air.   Pulling my wool cloak tightly around my shoulders, I bury myself deep within the warmth of the thick hood.  Damp lichens cling to wet branches and I close my eyes, inhaling the exquisite aromas of earth.

Kneeling on still frozen ground, my hands cling tightly to the staff in my hand.   It is time-worn, polished smooth by the rough sands and crashing waves of a mighty lake.   My fingers grasp the familiar wood, seeking the grooves that hold each digit in place.    Raising the staff inches from the earth, I begin to slowly and deliberately pound the ground, allowing the vibrations to travel throughout my body.    I continue to pound the earth with hard, strong pulses – forcing my energy deep into the belly of the earth.  My entire being rises and falls, matching the cadence of my staff.   The earth beneath my knees begins to shake and I rise, my green eyes soaking in the wonder of my wood. Magick fills the clearing as spring makes herself known to the hag of winter.

Dawn streaks across the sky, and a woman cloaked in green appears at the edge of the clearing, her power a gentle force as she breathes life into the wood.  Silently, she kneels at the trickle of water at her feet and takes a deep drink of water formed in Gaia’s womb.  Stillness settles in the wild forest as she rises, breathing in deeply the sweet smells of Spring.  Following my worn footpath, she treads lightly through the forest, leaving fresh sprouts of life in her wake.

The earth has settled herself; the vibrations no longer pulsate through my being.    Sighing, I find myself awake, my wool blanket at my feet and cats stretched lazily in warm sunbeams across my bed.  A dream.  I rise, filled with an inner peace, and smile.   Winter is half over.

*Brighid is the Celtic Goddess of Spring

© Tara E. Wisnewski Janisch and Rugged Earth Blessings, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of original poems, essays and photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.