The Landscape of Forest

Welcome to this place.

I hope that my voice will provide you with a gateway into the forest.

Your response is welcomed.

“Writing in landscapes, landscapes write in you.”

– Joan Halifax, The Fruitful Darkness

Some Years ago, while visiting Nepal, I had the good fortune to listen to the words of a Nepalese Archeologist. We were standing in front of an excavation in Lumbini, said to be the birthplace of Buddha. There the mother of Buddha was said to have given birth while holding onto the Sal tree. As he continued to speak, he referenced several other trees in the story of Buddha, and then paused to make an aside:

“It makes you wonder, really, if this is not actually all about the trees.”

He laughed and continued his discourse, but the words stayed with me as softly spoken ideas sometimes do. I remembered the impact of trees in my life and the subtle flavor of places, of landscapes that have moved me. Today, I have given a certain credence to this sensation and have concluded that whether it is a lower brain response to a safe and healthy landscape, or a higher brain desire for beauty, trees do hold a significant place in my relation to earth.

The expression of such things is understandably elusive. All aspects of our interconectedness can seem a challenge, at times, to express. We recognize them in flashes in our consciousness and then turn away to resume what we believe to be the important work of our lives. I have often felt helpless to express such thoughts on the world I have witnessed, in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Sometimes the human pain I saw, due to economic imbalances, or the compassionate sorrow that twisted my gut, when disrupted landscapes destroyed or displaced plants and animals, became unbearable.

I would try to speak of my experiences with friends and acquaintances, but such topics seem to slide away from peoples interest focus. Their eyes typically glaze and they make a perfunctory remark, returning to the issues they know, relegating your experience to some other world beyond their ken.

This apparent disinterest was a tipping point for me, one day. I identified with a world much larger than the one my associates knew. I also felt compassion, hope, and fear for that world. I began to wake in the night, while living in Africa, and tell myself fictional stories of people who saw and solved the worlds issues. I set aside two decades of filtered ramblings in a journal and opened up into poetry, fantasy, and science fiction. It was personal and it was private. It was also a healing place. This is what I hope to share in these pages.

Fallen Leaves, Fallen Trees

Words fall away from my mind in orange and yellow
They litter the ground, leaving me silent
The flavor of it sits in my mouth
Bitter or sweet
A nameless perfume rife with memory
 
I am at last
Finally, That Tree
Tall, still, I brace the landscape
My leaves fallen about me as past glories to dissolve
Food for saplings
 
I am that tree
Shading the heads of pilgrims
I stand as safe roost for eons of flocks
Soundless, I shrug a shoulder 
Or fan my hands
 
I am post and lintel
Cup, bowl, canoe
I am fire hardened spear and arrow; slit for the stone
Cradle, coffin, crucifix
I take the hangman’s name in silence
 
I am that tree.
Support for Maya in her birth throws
Canopy for her son as he awoke
Gathering place for the elders
The sentinel in silence forgotten
 
Standing within the cycle eternal
Fully aware and in silence
I am falling, falling
My essence dreams
And wakes again

Kiora Tash
2012

10 thoughts on “The Landscape of Forest

  1. Halifax’s words are perfect, and I love that you remembered that little aside from the archaeologist – it’s wonderful! Yes, trees keep appearing, and your poem speaks to that so well.

    Like

  2. There is so much I can relate to in this. Often, I think what people take to be ‘spiritual’ is simply an empathy with what is, truly is in a way what we create isn’t. How can we claim to be sensitive or humane or educated, open-minded, intelligent and not feel the pain that surrounds us?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I can’t stop the pain. I hope to teach others to value the beauty. Navajo Indians wake to bless the beauty each morning. I stay as much as possible in the present moment where beauty abides.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s