At this time of the rolling year, I usually post a solstice poem - or something seasonal. I wrote the poem below a few days ago when the snow was still on the ground. We've had at least three significant snows this year, after years of "unseasonably" warm winters. Unfortunately, the unseasonable-ness has become the norm.
The reason I bring this up is because I've been witness to and have been experiencing something that now pervades the culture, the world - what has been termed "eco-grief." That all-pervading anxiety and sorrow at the back of the mind, dwelling in the heart; the knowledge that things have gone too far, that we are now living (for those of us that are older) on a different planet from the one on which we were born. It is overwhelming - too big for the small human brain to take in - and it can lead to numbness, dissociation, and mental paralysis.
During the winter solstice, when we begin the transformation from the darkest day towards spring and more light, I think of the word "hope." Hope in the dark. There is an optimistic strain in the American psyche that always holds out hope in the dark. Sometimes this is helpful. But I think hope is the wrong way of approaching our situation (mass extinction) now. The world has already changed and we must change with it.
What I feel is required is courage. Courage to face the situation, look the terror in the face and acknowledge it for what it is. Courage to participate in trying to keep the world from total collapse. Courage to have compassion for those who are frozen by fear and deny that it is happening.
I say all this with the knowledge that I'm not a particularly courageous person. My courageous moments have happened because I was in community with other people who shared the same energy: a communal spirit.
There is also a reference to "shadow people" that are seen by those who suffer from schizophrenia...the figures, for the most part, when drawn, usually look the same...
Winter Solstice: Mercy
What's been lost follows me up
the mountain. A lone crow
somewhere on the trail ahead. His
voice, all gravel and rags.
A slight ripple across the reflection
of a piñon branch in a
sandstone pool. The same vibration
that moves through
the hollows inside my chest (looking
for a way out, finding
none). I long for sleep, the right
dream. Human sleep and
juniper roots, twins in the same dark
amniotic sac, knowing
the other is near, so close - What is
this shape? Is it part
of me? Shadows form at twilight
among bare trees, the same
shapes drawn by those who suffer
from schizophrenia - this,
they look like this: a head, shoulders,
great-coat, dissolution at
the feet…a Pygmy Owl turns its head,
scans the ground. Near home,
I see a man beneath the streetlight
that never shuts off
(the one I call Our Lady of Perpetual
On-Ness), arms spread,
looking up. Begging for mercy. When
I'm close, he dissolves up into
the light, a weave of bare branches
against the first few stars.
Find the beauty in the dark.
Where transformation resides.