Category Archives: Sun

I Am your Instrument, Play on!

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Deep in the cold, silent snow-dropping night
when reason gives way to a dreamy wonder;
when it has no reason to be, to exist,
I hear your angelic music. I don’t know
where it comes from. I don’t need to know.
I just need to listen and to feel the feelings it stirs,
feelings I have never felt and how strange is that?

If I listen with my heart, surely it will tell me
what the music is all about. Will it not?
What it has to say?  If indeed it is for me;
played for me?  Such a selfish, unworthy thought:
for me?  Why?  Since when is such ethereal music
played for fools awake in the middle of the night?
Fools who will not let themselves slip into sleep
for fear of dreams and portents of doom?

Yet your music plays on, sadly, wistfully seductive
and I have to listen with my heart; to feel, to feel
what the music interprets; what it is saying
to the night; into the night.  Into my mind and brain.
I want to kneel down and pray though we both know
I never pray.  I find no solace or gain in it.
Perhaps there is a good reason, perhaps it’s but pride:
I don’t even know. Not while your music is playing.

I want to stand and dance a wild dance, someplace,
where a full moon shines upon a glistening sandy shore
and I can hear small waves wash and die upon that shore
and smell their sea-grown treasures as they’re spilled
upon the sands, a free-will offering to the morning sun.
But I don’t dance either.  I just don’t. Too flaunty
I told myself long ago.  Call it reverse pride, or:
there was a lot of religion back there, self-denial.

But I listen to your music. There’s mystery in it.
Like me, and I am your instrument, aren’t I?  You,
you play me so well, and who else makes me smile
like this, foolishly? You are an accomplished harpist!
You give me such tantalizing vibrations, I could
collapse at your feet now, and die so happily… If
I wasn’t your instrument; if I did not belong to you.
If I were free.  But you know I don’t want to be free,
not from you, not from this ecstasy you give me.

 

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Child of Woe, Child of Wonder

(a poem by   ~burning woman~   )

I don’t do love (she said)
He looked at her dismayed
not knowing what to add;
not knowing which new bait
he could put on his hook.

But I’m OK with friendship
(she added with a smile)
I’m also OK with closeness
I can do togetherness
at night when the moon is cold.

I’m also OK with silent tears
when there’s no more wood
and the hearth is only ashes
when there’s but crumbs
left on the kitchen table.

I’m not great with good times
(she added looking serious)
I know they cannot last
and how long can it hold
when so many fall through?

I really dislike promises
(she said pointing to her heart)
for I know my weaknesses
being the bane of humanity
No hero, no angel, am I.

Stay close to me then
let my body warm yours
Let’s blend smiles and tears
and perhaps make a child
though she will be of woe.

Fields of grass swayed green
year by year the stars circled
and trees grew tall in the sun
their child of wonder also grew
to pen these lines for them.

         A short “report” upon returning from another MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) volunteer stint, this time near Lone Butte (100 Mile House) in the Caribou country of British Columbia, Canada.
This was MDS’ first “contract” in the area.  The reason we were so late starting was due to the roads having been closed because of the fires and it took a while to get the “all clear.”

Thanks to precautions by the owner, such as spreading fire retardant around the buildings and having a sprinkler system going fed by the solar panel array as the power grid was down, some of the buildings and animals survived the fires.  The dogs and horses did not survive.  Though many buildings throughout the fire area were saved that way, the ranchers lost over 30,000 heads of cattle, many of whom had to be put down having their hoofs and legs burned from running through the wildfires trying to escape.
Wildlife, especially the smaller rodent populations that provide food for the larger carnivores, was decimated.  Hungry cougars and other large predators are now roaming ever closer to remaining winter feed lots and even homes.   Children have to be driven inside vehicles to school bus pick-up points though you can see some daring lonely souls, who probably do not have the luxury of a parent at home able to drive them, walking along the roads.  One does not have to wonder long what would happen if they were attacked.
The goal of our 5-man crew was to get as much of the replacement house covered, laying up of trusses, sheathing and if possible, installation of the metal roofing.  We got as far as the tar paper and strapping, which will ensure the building stays relatively free of snow and rain on the inside, barring whatever blows in through doors and windows as yet not installed.  With the onset of winter up there, about 300 miles north of the border, or from Chilliwack which is where I live (practically on the 49th parallel) we probably will not be returning until after spring breakup.  By then there should be several more projects identified and contracted for by our project managers.

Following are some pictures I took the time to snap as the work progressed.  Couldn’t waste much time off the job as the days are short up there – it reminded me of the Peace River country in northern Alberta where I was raised, if a bit warmer and wetter and the mud not quite as sticky as our great plains gumbo.  If the pictures appear fuzzy, it’s because they are greatly reduced from their original format.

Images and captions:  This is the house we worked on.  It may seem large but it has to accommodate a large family.  IMG_0169

House againIMG_0170

… house…IMG_0154

Solar panels and power house.  Behind is the log cabin the family is now using as temporary abode. IMG_0166

…angle consultation.  The man in the black cap is the owner. IMG_0184

This is part of the area the family calls “Elizabeth’s Pond” IMG_0175

A bit more of “the pond” and the “floating fence” which sits on several feet of soft peat and is often under water. IMG_0180

Close up of “floating fence” and edge of pond.  I was told that if someone ventured here they’d sink over their head in peat and mud. IMG_0164

Children’s play area (one of several!) IMG_0153

Log playhouse. IMG_0152

Burned area near the homestead/ranch, and a small lake.IMG_0194

More of burned area – close up.IMG_0189

… and more… IMG_0200

My faithful companion van and mobile tool box,  properly “decorated” with high country mud.  Individual patiently looking out and waiting for me to take my pictures along the forest road is my friend, Vic Janzen, one of MDS’ project managers and project leaders.  We rode up together on this particular project.

IMG_0196

A month ago, this is what our sun looked like at high noon here, 300 miles south of the raging wild fires. IMG_0006

I must say that, as much as I enjoy giving away time and resources to help others it never ceases to amaze me that as a nation people willingly let their pathocratic leaders blow off tax dollars on destroying people and the planet and fail to find it offensive that there is “no money” to help the very people who pay the taxes used to build the military hardware; the military machine and to pay the inflated “salaries” of rich, elitist rulers.  How can a supposed intelligent species be this dumb?  This uncaring?  This unfeeling?  This crass?  This ignorant?  This stupid?  How many of “us” is there for every one of “them”?  Yet we claim to be democratic societies.  Is this what we really want?  If not then why is it that those who propose change are always spurned, scorned, distrusted or even “elimitated” so the sharks can continue to have free range over the planet?  Surpasses my understanding.

As a final note, I saw the full glory of the Milky Way for the first time since leaving the Peace River country in 1964!  Prevailing winds must have “miraculously” blown the smoke away from the area where we bunked.  We seldom realize how much city environments create horribly polluted conditions until we find ourselves far enough up in the mountains, or far enough north that city smogs can’t reach there… yet.

                                [thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

Given the way global and local events are developing, a serious observation can give but one conclusion: that long-talked about collapse of civilization is going to take place.  It probably will not be tomorrow, or next month, or next year.  It may not happen in ten years, or fifty.  The forces orchestrating the collapse of man’s “great” accomplishments are on the job, so to speak, but not all are totally committed to their task.  With all the moving and shaking, who knows but we may yet enjoy some reprieve, some years of relative calm and peace.  Unlikely but possible. 

That said and out of the way, I’m currently reading a dystopian novel called “The Water Knife” by Paolo Bacigalupi.  It’s centered in the US – namely the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Colorado.  The droughts have been severe and finally it’s been realized that water is at a premium.  Acts of sabotage and quasi-civil war take place between farmers, states, and cities fighting for water, and those fighting to keep their water rights: fighting for survival.  It’s a horrible time for all involved, with massive movements of displaced persons or refugees leaving farms, towns and cities that have lost out to the highest or most aggressive bidders and find themselves literally without water. 

It’s not too difficult at this point to see how this could happen, and in a short time.  Even flooding is not a good gauge to use to measure drought: there’s short term and long term, and man should learn to reason and act long term, but so far that ability has quite eluded the creature.

I want to end this with a quote from the novel: [Maria Villarosa, a young girl alone and lost in the chaos] “Why?” she asked, finally.  “Why are you so nice?  It doesn’t make sense.  I’m not your woman.  I’m not your people.”

[Toomie, an old black man] “We’re all each other’s people.  Just like we’re all our brothers’ keepers.  We forget it sometimes.  When everything’s going to pieces, people can forget.  But in the end?  We’re all in it together.  You are my people, Maria.  No question in my mind.”

No question in my mind either, not now.  But it took many years to work that simple addition to arrive at the correct answer.  And even now, having made compassion and service my purpose, my passion, the selfish thoughts and times arise.  Not as powerfully as they once did, but it is still a narrow path from which it is easy to stray and stray too far you won’t find it again.  That is my one fear: that I would follow some will o’ the wisp, some lure, some promise of a short cut and find myself hopelessly lost.  So I gnaw at this compassion bone, and drag it around with me.  If I bury it at the end of the day, I make sure to dig it up again in the morning and drag it along to worry it some more. 

Some might say, why should we care?  You live, you die, case closed.  That works for those who convince themselves that is how it is.  There are some of us, and you may pity us indeed, who happen to k-n-o-w that death is not an end but a passage, and a sort of test.  On the other side there are no “things,” no pretty bodies with seductive smiles to win over the judges, no Olympic gold medals, no Nobel or Pulitzer prizes, no stacks of money, no deeds to any plantation.  Yes, there are deeds, and that’s the problem.  Our deeds, my deeds.  My thoughts.  My words.  These are my judges, after death has done its thing and stripped me of all those physical “things” that don’t mean a thing at the end of the path. 

So yes, it’s going to happen.  In this life, in the next, whatever.  What matters to me is preparedness.  Knowing how to face to chaos when it comes.  Note that I’m not saying the sky is falling, I’m merely saying that we should all take advantage of this warning time to teach ourselves how to respond… properly, as compassionate and caring individuals.  Not as survivors – these die last – but as sharing and giving people, for if I have and my neighbour does not, I’m but half-alive until I share.  Openly, freely. 

Just thought I’d pass that along.  It’s what’s been filling my days (and dreams) lately, while the wild fires continue to burn.  A picture of a smoke-filled sunrise taken a week ago.  The smoke continues… though somewhat abating in the Lower Mainland (B.C., Canada) 

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

The Deer at the Railway

       (a poem – by Sha’Tara)

She stood still as a rock
beside the tall railway fence,
her shiny brown coat sleek
in the harsh noonday sun.
Her ears moved, twice:
she tossed her head,
snorted once,
leapt over the fence
followed by her two fawns
who jumped after her
with such effortlessness
you could sense the invisible hand
that picked them up
and tossed them over.

All three passed the dappled greens
at the edge of the woods
melting like Tolkien elves
into their sylvan underworlds.
Of their passage,
no trace remained.

The goldenrod along the fence
tossed gently but insistently
in the rising breeze.
Along the bright-lit rails
down the line

the faint chitting
of a savanna sparrow
expressed fully
nature’s contentment. 

 

 

Before the Owl Calls my Name

  [a poem by   ~burning woman~  ]

[Explaining the title: According to the Kwakiutl people of the British Columbia coast (Canada) if you hear an owl call your name, your death is imminent.]

The night fills me with its seductive darkness
A moon’s halo slides through thin clouds
All is silent, as silent as the deep of space
And I lie here in the back seat of your car,
Your big old Buick of romantic days gone by
But we are young yet, or almost young
And all that matters now is that you are here
Naked against my own throbbing nakedness
My heart beating in the moment’s madness
Orgasm and death blending so well together.

Hold me and press your maleness into me
But don’t just make love to me, I want more
possess me beyond my dreaming
Devour my longing, my hopeless desire
Eat my flesh
Leave nothing of what I once called me
But the lingering scent of your moaned pleasure
When my body turns itself inside out
To give you all my life in one thrust
Do this to me, do this for me
Before the owl calls my name
And tells me I will not see another sunrise.