Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tree Cathedral

Footsteps absorbed by packed dirt trail
A lone pewee issues a plaintive cry
A light breeze ruffles leaves of maple
Otherwise the forest is quiet

We sink deeper into a valley
And the hills rise up higher on either side
As our muffled for footfall propels us forward
The sunlight is muted and dappled on the forest floor

Enjoying the sights passing by my boots
     Splayed sarsaparilla
     Shiny mayflower
     Yellowing cohosh
I suddenly feel compelled to look up

In the world is awash in emerald green
Where July sunshine hits richly chlorophylled leaves
Green ignites
Firefly green, fireworks green, phosphorescent green
My footsteps slow

I crane my neck back in awe
How did these trees get so tall?
They CN Tower over my humble head

And what do they know? 
What have they seen?
And how come they're talking to me?
I stand, reverent
Unable to pinpoint the feeling, other than
I am part of this.
I am very small.

Then our path winds up… up… up
The trees fall back slightly from heights of giants
Their bark once more in reach of my searching hand
Cool to the touch even in summer's heat

When we pass through the sacred spot again 
On our way back out into blistering unfiltered summer sun
I nod my respects to the cathedral's green
To its towering statues
And look forward to my next worship

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Sunlight streams through winter-smudged windows
Cold blue sky and puffy clouds
Over yards of white snow, coarse like sugar
It could be any February day

Then a fly
Catches my eye
Clinging to the window screen
Circling hesitantly, one tentative footfall after another
Peering in at me from outside

Curious, I ease open the front door
And as February air gusts in
I instinctively hunch my shoulders against impending cold
But instead, warm spring washes over me

Almost simultaneously, I'm racing through my house;
Frantically pumping bicycle tires;
Searching for helmets and sunglasses buried under so many toques and scarves;
As if at any moment a blizzard could crash through
And take it all away

And then I'm soaring
Bathing in the moist, warm, scented day
Pedaling faster and faster
As if not to miss a single square foot of spring

Whizzing over a bridge
I hear the rush of meltwater crashing through a riverbed
Tree branches heavy with buds rustle over the stream
Murmuring polite hellos to one another after months of silence

I speed past a farm field
That blinks green where snow is rapidly slinking away
I breathe deeply
And smell the damp, sweet, earthen scents of life

Where ice still stubbornly coats trails
I ease off my summer ride
And step gingerly through April-deep mud
My footfalls stirring the slumber of insects
Who spiral lazily upward, then down again

I reach my arms wide
Tilt my face to the sun

It's eerie, though welcome
And it won't stay
But awoken from my own torpor of winter dormancy
Today I will fly a little too


Temperatures fall
Muddy footsteps immortalize, frozen in time
Snowflakes swirl from steel gray skies
The ground dusted once more in white

And I wait...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Snowy Owl

"This isn't quite right...", she thinks
Though the carpet of pristine snow and
Sharp blue skies of mid-day
Convince her otherwise
For a moment

A scurrying movement across the landscape
Two hundred feet away
Catches her yellow eye
And she tilts her ear instinctively to follow the noise

Field mouse
Her stomach grumbles for lemming and goose

The landscape, stubbled with remains of golden cornstalks poking through the snow
Is criss-crossed with paths
That machines rumble across regularly
Their roar, at first, reminiscent of tundra winds
Peering faces from within bring her south again

Across the field, she spots another hunched white figure
Atop a telephone pole
Two pairs of cat-like eyes lock
And it is understood that each will remain staunchly in their corner

Food is scarce
Warm winds blow in cool rain
Peering faces follow her every move
"... this isn't quite right..."

Her giant white wings beat dramatically in takeoff
Then she glides noiselessly over the frozen corn
Toward the mouse
Whose fate is already decided by the great northern huntress

Snowy Owl - photo by Kristyn Ferguson :)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Windswept (Iceland)

Monochrome deserts.
Volcanic sand blows gray in the cool wind
Lava rocks reach craggy hands from the grave
Palest yellow lichens crawl and cling
Rutted moonscapes race out to the endless horizon

 Green hills.
Rising up on all sides, at all times
A smatter of spruce here
A tumble of fallen rock there
Switchback roads scaling up, up, up
Puffs of white sheep, defying gravity, polka dot verdant verticals

Steaming pools.
The stench of sulfur wafting upward
Black sand gives way to raw, hot, amber soil
The ground alive and smoking
Gushing, bubbling, bursting geysirs
Escaping the earth's molten depths

Tie-dyed mountains.
Deep autumn hues of maroon, copper and ochre
Streaked with cool blue-gray and slate green
Strung together in a line
Banded brazenly in their shared strangeness

Black beaches.
Sand dark as night
Ebony arches thrust out of bluest oceans
Columns of basalt, sculpted by volcanic gods
Perfect hexagonal cylinders, towering over the shore

Pounding water.
Coursing through ancient gorges
Carved by ages of meltwater
Frothing gray in the afternoon clouds
Thundering downwards hundreds of feet
Before winding peacefully away into the distance

Frosty blues.
Turquoise popsicles jutting out of falling glaciers
Icebergs split open to reveal candy-aqua inside
Lakes and lagoons milky azure
Their depths hiding history, slimy silica, and secrets

Orange beaks.
On flying, waddling, tumbling
Hiding, hopping, snoozing
Fish-collecting, dive-bombing
Cliff-nesting penguins of the north: puffins

The blonde bangs of a brown Icelandic horse
The cod dangling in a shack by the sea
The roof of a turfhouse long abandoned
The wrecks of so many ships who got too close
My hair, across my eyes
My heart, to see all of this

Three Degrees Celsius

The ice rain crackled relentlessly
Against our layers of waterproof rubber
The cold mist soaking through mittens
And dusting ruddy cheeks

Its dance across the night sky
Reminding us that Canadian winter
Will not be ushered out
By anything as trivial
As the calendar reading "April"

I was back again
Waiting for Barred Owls
To pierce the night with their rich song
To pierce my soul with their intense brown-eyed stare

Again and again we stop
And listen
No frogs. No robins. No owls.
Only our cold breath and the evening air

Nearing the end of our circuit
Hearts heavy with disappointment
I stared up at the towering black spruce trees
I could just make out the foggy white light of the full moon
Behind the trees, behind the clouds

Standing for twelve minute intervals of anticipation
Exposed to the frozen April night
I discovered "cold yoga"
And stretched

I cleared my busy mind.
I was aware of my surroundings.
I was deep in the moment.
At three degrees celsius.

I completed a "moon salutation"
And as I squinted up
I witnessed the exact moment the wet clouds
Slithered backward off the moon
Revealing its full brilliant blue-white glow

Suddenly: spruce trees, glittering stars, full moon
And I noticed the rain had stopped
And I heard the full, enveloping vacuum of the utter silence of the night
No owls. But I was at peace.

At our next stop, lit white with glorious moonshine
I smiled up at the stars
Grains of salt smattered across a canvas of inky black
And lived fully in that minute

And perhaps because I'd stopped straining to hear it
Peering to see it
An owl suddenly alighted
On the tree branch in front of me

It cocked its head sideways
I gaped back at it, frozen in joy

Then sound gurgled forth from it
Slow at first, then growing in insistence
"Wah... wop... woo...
...who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

Excitement. Adrenaline.
Peace. Zen.
Moonlight. Trees, Owls.
Perfection. At three degrees celsius.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

After the Rainstorm

Thunderous dark clouds sneak over the horizon
On their easterly path
To soak, to surprise, to ruin the days
Of their next victims

They leave behind air thick with mist
Smelling heavily of roses
And the threat of ocean from heaven
Once again

Blue, gray, murky, opaque
A hand passes slowly through the mist
Catching sparkles of moisture
Which glitter on the tanned, dirt-laced working gloves
Callused from labour and time

Time slows
Hands tick slowly... more slowly...

Sun suspended somewhere beyond
The thick net of vapour
Which eludes the eyes
Eyes mistaking rivers for skies, skies for rivers
In the gathering gloom

Salted water weaves through fields
Wheat which sways in dry summer heat
Now drips, leans, bends
In wet, still, sorrow
Tears roll down

Written July 27, 2005 (found in a drawer on April 9, 2016)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wilson Island

It starts with waves
Lapping at and sliding between the smooth gray cobbled rocks on shore

That stony beach gives way to a tangle of shrubs
That claw at tender legs passing through them

Then forest
Mixed at first, with conifers and broad-leaved trees mingling together at the party
Patches of sunlight warm the forest floor

Deeper in, light filters out and dark boughs of spruce and fir draw closely together
They interlock their needled fingers and stand tall to challenge any passer-bys

Trying to follow the four-legged journey of a deer in a line through the deep woods
I am no match
Those dark branches like arms hug me closer
       Wrap around my backpack straps
       Slip inside my belt loops
       Slyly pull my sunglasses right off my face
They tug me backward while I struggle forward

In the distance I see light penetrating the shadows
And march one leg at a time toward it
Ignoring the grasping hands at my ankles

Beneath my feet the forest floor turns into a moss carpet
A plush emerald cloud that bounces under me
My footprints disappear as quickly as I leave them

At last I burst out of the forest's dusk and meet the light
      The blue sky
      The puffy white clouds
      The golden sunshine
And an expanse of indigo inland lake alive with singing birds, splashing fishes, and buzzing insects

I watch. I write. I rest.
Then I steel myself for my return journey to the big water
And all that lies between