“Statues” was a game we kids played during recess on the playground. One kid (usually a girl, a bossy “Lucy” type) got to control the action; the rest of us would dance and whirl and act crazy until she shouted “Freeze!” and we’d all stop in mid-action. Whoever wobbled first from their “statue” pose was out of the game. Of course some of the poses were so ridiculous that most of us would start giggling and jiggling and eventually we’d all just fall on the ground laughing.

Several decades later, in the midst of our whirling ordinary lives and crazy business-as-usual, a pandemic has shouted “freeze!” and we have                          

stopped.

We have sheltered-in-place; hidden in fear; closed our businesses, schools, places of worship.
We’ve lost our footing, lost our income, been bewildered, been disinformed.
We’ve cooked from our freezers and pantries, checked on neighbors, sent “I love you” emails.
We’ve gotten sick. We’ve died.

There have been lots of words about this in the ether of the internet – wise words, beautiful words, panicked words, informed words. Too many words.

I don’t want to add many more words to the ever-growing pile. What I do want to do is something I seldom do in this blog: offer you two of my newest poems. One was written “before,” in the first week of January (“Loving Mother Anyway”), and the other was written last week (“Obeisance to Mt. Baker”). They pretty much contain everything I have to say about the pandemic . . . so far.

May you be well.

 

Loving Mother Anyway

Joyfully immersed in her creative project,
she coddled, nourished, patiently evolved us
from single-cell simplicity
to complicated sentience.

Now we believe
we are the apex of her creativity,
the very reason she exists.
We crow our brilliance to her heavens
as we scar her skies with contrails
and chlorofluorocarbon.
We lacerate her skin
then salve her wounds
with trash and poisons.
We suck her riches dry
and kill each other
when we feel deprived.

Tired, she whispers now.
I grow so tired of them.
I feel no joy in keeping them.
Soon, she says,
very soon I’ll shake these parasites
from my exhausted body.
I’ll loose them from my gravity
with whirling, angry storms.
They will fall up
through holes ripped in my shawl.
They’ll vaporize in empty darkness,
and I will not take them back.

Anxiously I watch
her growing discontent.
I wonder: could I love her well enough
to make her change her plans?
Our science says too late for that.
But do I cherish the bounty
and the beauty of her life enough
to love her anyway,
as she destroys humanity
so she can heal herself?
                                  ©2020 CynthiaTrenshaw.com

 

Obeisance to Mt. Baker

Green-fringed fir shawls
flail in gusts nor’westerly.
A dozen gulls and two great eagles
sail between gray waves, pale sky.
Digital 1s and 0s swarming
everywhere, invisible,
mutate into small-screen warnings:
disorder!
death!
pandemic!

I’m bewildered in this swirl.
My jaw is clenched,
my fingers too.
I can’t find meaning,
cannot focus.

But tall above the Cascade Range,
stolid when all else is trembling,
brilliant white Mt. Baker stands,
commands attention.
The peak will not,
cannot be ignored.

I meet the mountain’s ancient stare,
hear its silent hallowing demands.
My breathing slows.
Wind and code falter in the ether.
Turmoil is becalmed.

Reverently I press my palms together,
peak my fingers, mirroring
the mountain.
Accept its deep initiation.
Embed its calm into my heart
where chaos cannot reach.
                                  ©2020 CynthiaTrenshaw.com

photo by Corrine Bayley

 “I used to think bearing witness was a passive act, but I don’t believe that anymore. When we are present, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed. The very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. A consciousness shift.”  Terry Tempest Williams, quoted on ServiceSpace.org

10 replies
  1. Gretchen Staebler
    Gretchen Staebler says:

    Thank you for this, Cynthia. I walk in my woods and are comforted that the banana slug on the trail cares not for what’s happening in my life. The trillium is busting out all over, oblivious. The trees are budding, the birds are singing, Mt. St. Helens wears a splendiferous white gown. Spring may come in her meadows unobserved by humans, except for scofflaws, but come she will. Love to you.

    Reply
    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      Thank you, Gretchen, for these lovely details. The more we appreciate Nature, the healthier we all become.

      Reply
  2. Cynthia Trowbridge
    Cynthia Trowbridge says:

    My dear sister, Cynthia, your poems capture both the sorrow and the reverence.

    It feels like grace to live on Whidbey Island with many opportunities to catch our breath as we take in the beauty that is all around us. My fervent hope is that this pause becomes a reset.

    with deep gratitude

    Reply
  3. Anna
    Anna says:

    Wow, I am very drawn to the second poem. Thank you for sharing your words to form connections during a time where everything feels so disconnected!

    Reply
    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      The experience with Mt. Baker was exceptional. It would not NOT let me be connected! And it would not let me go until I had truly GOTTEN what it had to say. And then I had no choice but to try to capture the experience in words. So glad you have joined me there, at the foot of the mountain.

      Reply
  4. Erica Eden
    Erica Eden says:

    Statues. Yes. Thanks for the memories. When our cousins came to visit, my brothers and I would often play .
    Mt. Baker is hard to miss right now. Elegant in her snowy white robe. Crown amiss.

    Reply
  5. Kathryn Harja
    Kathryn Harja says:

    Thanks Cynthia for your tender, fierce offerings. I needed something to ground me as I go into work to ground my essential employees. Something to read in this vast sea of information that uplifts – your poems did so for me. Gratitude!

    Reply
    • Cynthia Trenshaw
      Cynthia Trenshaw says:

      Wonderful to hear from you, Kathryn. And so happy to have offered the grounding of Mt. Baker to sustain you in your work. Keep listening to the mountain . . .

      Reply

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