Saturday, August 10, 2019

totem



in the end, all you want is someone to long for you 
when it comes time to put you in the ground.
                           ~ tea obreht

i pick up road kill..
moving it to a soft grassy shoulder
or laying it out under a shade tree..
sometimes i actually carry it home
for a different burial
totem 
picking them off the roadway of fast wheels
i always stop.. most always stop ...
to remove the remains to the side ..
to keep scavengers from meeting the same fate
to whisper some prayer of release and love
to ask forgivness for our human speed

the dead are celebrated. 
the dead are loved. 
they give something to the living. 
once you put something into the ground,
you always know where to find it.
                        ~ téa obreht

it is said..
one becomes a totem to the very animal
one has lifted up..
and the animal beomes a totem for thee

one comes to be clan..
nindoodem - my clan 
                     ~ ojibway 

our last breath informs the first breath..
take note of the inhale and the exhale..


some nights back..
with the cool heat sifting thru my open windows
i heard a strange sound in the wee early hours
of the last night's new day..
piercing my heart and wide-waking my eyes..
a bark of sorts.. a keen..
was it a dog?
some strange human animal texture -
mournfulness and yearning co-mingled

puzzled and straining to hear a known name to place it..
it ended in the unmistakable yip of coyote..
silence
the cry - so unnerving -
the still - so loud -
the vibe of it kept me on alert
before slowly turning me back to slumber ..

as i drove out the road, the following morning..
i see ..
i see the sound i heard..
in the middle of the road
it is a coyote kit
the colour of wheat
the colour of sun
a pup  - new to the world..
soft pelt, clear eye

at the very same place in the road..
the very next day..
an elder..grey and sun-scorched..
following the footsteps
of the one thus gone..
both laid out in the deep grasses

a long while ago..
when i was teaching
at the swinomish spiritual center
- still living in anacortes -
driving home one evening
i see a raccoon .. hit..
circling back, i pick up the heavy carnivora
and place it under a tree just outside town..
as i rest it down, the palms touch gently together in namaste..
stunned and moved beyond the beyond..
prayers come easy.. tears too..
all autumn long as i drove by..
i watched the body
mulch its way back to clay,
to gaia mother..

last summer i scooped up
2 babe masked marauders
- heart -  broken-open for days -

lifetimes before..
traveling the laconner-whitney road
great blue heron met its demise..
upon lifting it up .. still warm
holding the great wings to me
the warmth of life deserting its expanse..
i carried it home for some unknown reason

a friend who knew the art of preserving,
honoring and tending the winged ones
crafted the wings for me ..
the pinions were huge and aloft with power..
i lived in the attic of the nantucket at the time..
daily i would stretch the wings out on the rich brown carpet
and lie down upon them -
receiving the power and the glory
of one such majestic avian dinosaur
after a time, i gifted the wings to my husband's lover's lover..
eventually i gifted husband to lover!

just before my walkabout to california..
on a night that held a throbbing energy,
i awoke to hawk..
spread eagle..butterflied on the front lawn..
as if it had been laid out for me..
in full feather finery..a red tail..
again i took the splendiferous one
to my pal and she crafted a hawk fan -
she strung a lone feather on my cap
for protection..
we laughed that it would save me
from birds pooping on my head..
and indeed it did..
to this day, my gaze is hawk-eyed
to every raptor along the hiways and byways..
in the most obscure nooks..
i am linked heart and soul to hawk..

like a bird on a wire..
the swallow
fussing and chirring..
with such passion..
keening a lament ~
on the ground just below..
a squash of feather
nary a form left to lift ~
a partner, a pal, a lover, a mate..
bearing witness,
i could not move a muscle
until the sorrowful bird took flight

liftting crow up and off road..
a murder gathered -watching
silent at first
then bellowing their thunderous raucous
that only these black birds can muster
after i placed the fellow corvid
in a tender lush spot ..
they encircled the corpse
wailing the wake

cats, flickers, bunnies, snails, possums
all totems for me..

let us please slow down
we are in no hurry

.... if you are making your journey in a hurry, 
you are making it poorly.
                                  ~ téa obreht, the tiger's wife

pray that you shall not harm another..
on the road or off the road ~
yet the whirr of wheels and the speed of light..
the karma and dharma of birth and death
might slip sideways into action..
if so ~ here are two  mantras
that will ease the pain of the all and every :

OM MANI PADME HUM 

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA


* grammer police :
dunno if i got the lay and lie
the laid and lain 
all in proper places..
do send out a warrant, if need be..