Something makes a rustle a fox (silently most usually slinks) or a toadlet barely a tadpole fantasy a poet folding a scrap of a poem or dryad shifting her saddle or ancestor spirits coming home late (or did someone lose a lens cap) the weight of sketch in a notebook or sound of the slowly days getting shorter but wait (!) a little lizard a shiny-stripe slither those tiny hands they even have thumbs.
Wilder friends, one of my favorite poems of the summer is A New Language by Casandra Lopez. It holds the phrase:
…back to longer days when: Ocean is the mouth of summer….
But presently having no ocean here only the vestige of our primordial sea we look to a pond or tadpole puddle or to the celestial seas on heavenly bodies born on tender stems, solstice or the super-moon of June.
TNS Earth-house retreat just before the summer solstice in Fremont County Iowa. Photo by Kathryn Sutko Twit with students from College of St. Mary.
Top: Cephalanthus occidentalis on the solstice, Washington County Nebraska. Photo by Troy Soderberg.
Omaha stands where an oak-hickory woodland once stood where Maple Street crosses a sylvan meander no one seems to notice where the long-ago living here wore no clothing or scant and yet 911 was flooded when someone wandered naturally into traffic and I wondered how he got here or more importantly where he is going (and what about us) perhaps a vestigial leak of an older self an oaken ghost being cut and laid bare (the bipedal zygote of Gaia) some refugee god in pedestrian flesh. Going native is almost as shocking as going on foot better get to the woods whilst no one is watching.
Wild spirits in human form on a TNS retreat along the East Nishnabotna River. Such sightings are rare unless you know where to look.
Submit to the sweet the savage beauty of this world now is the time.
(American sentence by Jack Phillips, a form of haiku originated by the poet Allen Ginsberg. *Dicentra cucullaria with ant struggling in a spider’s web along the East Nishnabotna River, photo by Becky Colgrove.)
Feral friends and wanderlings, for those of us who live by daylight and the stretch of purple night, the Solstice brings a new year. And for those of us with a talent and taste for wild silences, winter is the blessed season. In the coming weeks we will resume our Saunters and workshops, write frozen poems and make muddy ones come spring. For now, we wish you longer days and warmer socks.
The naked bark of winter writes a simple poetry. Graphis scripta is a common lichen on the smooth bark of living trees such as June-berry (Amelanchier arborea). Though native to our home-woods of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, June-berry is much more common in New Hampshire, the birthplace of The Naturalist School. Wherever we find our wild friend June-berry, Graphis scripta gives us the first lines of a poem.
Graphis scripta on Amelanchier arborea in Fremont County, Iowa. Photos by Robert Smith.