Climb the Sky: Love Poems to Spirit

By Kathryn LaFevers Evans Three Eagles Tuchina Osi Chickasaw Nation

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Offered to Ababinili: Spirit of Nature God & Goddess
In dedication to Charles, my husband, whose forbearance and patience have led me to womanhood. For Celeste, who brought me back to the Word. And for Austin, whose name means Sacred and Sublime.

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To the Reader, I offer the three words my Grandmother taught us as children, words that have kept the Native Spirit in all of our multicultural kin alive: uno ihullo ishno, I love you.

These love poems to Spirit came over the past 36 years— during the heart’s springtime of young adulthood, during middle age, and the years ripening towards old age— in times of love, times of childbirth, times of illness, and times of joyful health in nature.

Keep turning the Medicine Wheel

and Climb the Sky . . .

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Climb the Sky: Love Poems to Spirit

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Ababinili’s Ark
Noah took two bison away, two racoons, two panthers, two fish, and two Christians. Noah’s Ark departed, and left in its wake the Trail of Tears. All “others” were left to walk, to drown in their own tears, and the clans sunk down. Magnificent Chickasaw war canoe down the Tombigbee River rode, down into Earth went the clan of panther and of fish. Head anointed, buried sitting facing west, soul traveling west to the judgement, seven generations sat submerged in a supernatural world of Iyaganashas, teachers of shamans. Ababinili—Great Composite Force of the Four Beloved Things Above: Sun, Clouds, Clear Sky, and He That Lives in the Clear Sky— Ababinili, who made all humankind out of the dust of mother Earth, fell down as the sacred fire was doused, weeping into Earth. Come out of Earth the Ark, little mothers, and dry your children’s eyes. Come up, little fathers, to the light, and ride Ababinili’s Ark into peace, down the Tombigbee.

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Spirit Guide to Third Falls
Across Robinson Creek footbridge where melted snow-waters glint in the sunlight, as the river bends out towards the lake, The trail up begins moist and strewn with golden aspen leaves, as it winds through the white-bark trees. Through the darkened pine-forest, across the log bridge that spans the final twisting rush before the steep granite-gravel switchbacks. And further up beyond the fern grotto, I hear her call as I approach First Falls. The Eagle, unmistakable, calls for me. I cannot see her perched among the pines. Granite boulder mountainside waterfall, First Falls whitewater. And after awhile I go on up, along the narrow switchbacks, steep Sierra trail towards Second Falls. This is Puma’s land, and Black Bear’s, where dried deer-lettuce crunches underfoot, frozen by an early snow. I hear her call, as I approach Second Falls. The Eagle, unmistakable, calls for me. Whitewater rocks with moss-covered felled-tree banks usher me on to the final switchback before Third Falls. The granite-gravel trail, moistened with yesterday’s rain, feels firm and sure beneath my feet

7 as I stop in the sunlight to sit on Meditation Rock. Below me is the wide beaver creek, flowing flat and slowly towards the drop at Second Falls. Fertile green foliage spreads out around the beaver dams, while grey leafless trees, drowned in the pond, stand quiet. And on beyond is the stark granite edifice, that itself appears to cascade down, under majestic Third Falls. It fans out across the rock face as if to claim it— the visual base that frames the Sawtooth Matterhorn high against the sky. The peaks are covered deep, and dusted with new snow, and the topmost ridge of white is blown up mist-like even higher on the sky. Then walking along the final band of trail as it swings wide above the beaver ponds and on towards the top of Third Falls, I see her circling borne high upon the air— The Eagle, unmistakable, calls for me.

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Invocation
Great Eagle, Sky-Spirit guide my words in your Beauty Way of outspread golden wings. Wisdom of the White Lotus-Sun blossom into Earth Blue Lotus of the First Waters. Shaman Stone navel of the storm ground your lightning bolts from the four houses of the wind in the medicine wheel of our hearts That we may heal each other once again.

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Indian Rock Meditation
Chickasaw mother Nysa Leah— Beautiful Tree— Tall and broad by the lake. The lake is still and cool, Like a full moon in the wide sky. A dragonfly lands momentarily in the mud at lake’s edge. Moss, frogs, ducks and ducklings— Grown in the summer sun. I step out of my canoe to follow the dragonfly as it flits away up the trail. Underfoot, the clean granite gravel is ground to sand, finer, finer. My moccasined footfalls are silent on the soft sand. The dragonfly disappears among the fragrant towering trees. Suddenly, through the forest of pines, a massive granite rock, many-tiered yet molded out of One— Dropped in the center by some primordial glacier as it scoured the valley floor, Leaving Sierra gold streaming down secret rivers. Indian Rock—Ambika navel. I rest, buoyed up upon your bosom, Hidden from view above the treetops.

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Wide vistas of pristine peaks come almost into view, with the passing of youth. An ancient tree stands next to me atop the highest round; The dragonfly alights. through its wings I glimpse Your Golden Light— but glance away. The dragonfly has flown, and We are left alone in the wilderness.

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The Backyard
I came down from the top Of the jungle gym To see the pretty fish my parents Had caught diving beneath the sea. My brothers came into the garden From the gate to the tracks; The clay soil made a perfect oven For them to bake potatoes in. We watched as we swung on the swingset, Our parents gutting and flaying the fish. Then we played with the fishguts And poked the slimy round eyes, Fondling fish eggs golden orange; And glistening in the summer sun, Scales decorated our delighted hands. Tonight we would feast on fish fresh from the sea, And baked potatoes steeped in the smell Of Earth.

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Visions
Gentle sounds of rain outside, You remember my childhood bedroom To me . . . Stars upon the ceiling A circus train across the wall. “Tell me the story about me Coming down the chute, And about you cutting the cord!” Striped ticking against my cheek, The smell of a thousand tears. Even out of melancholy One salt teardrop Upon an old feather pillow Has spawned a thousand dreams. I thought I was awake in fear, And then I thought again, And again, As each salt tear fell Upon the pillow clouds, descending. Down, down Through each lotus pond Suspended in the palm of Your hand. Down the thousand dreams of life, Cascading down the winding ponds Washed pure as a raindrop To Mother Earth. My thirst is quenched As our hearts pulse together— It is, after all, Only We From the beginning of time As it drops like the dew Upon our outstretched palms. Neither male nor female, both— And yet we speak,

13 As if to one another, Out of fondness. What can I tell you That we do not already know? Listen, and you will hear The silent tear As it falls into infinity.

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The Year the Piazza Came to Town
I think I saw a smiling clown The year the piazza came to town, Or perhaps it was just That the cars were slowing down. I watched an old man drown In tears for his son Killed in the war in Iraq, The year the piazza came to town. And at night I heard the shells At Pendleton, 15 miles down the road. That year, the jacaranda bloomed All over town, The year the piazza came to town. I thought of Rome and Paris, Of pigeons in the park in Boston, Of bougainvillea in Bangalore. I saw my daughter’s eyes light up At the crowds of kids in line at the show. I saw patient police watch tough kids Looking for attention, staking claim In rough and touching ways. I knew a kind man With a small gold earring The year the piazza came to town.

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This Day
Never has the earth been more pure or more beautiful than this day. Ever have the lupine bloomed lavender upon a green sea, the wild grasses flowing. An ancient oak bears the hope of bright Spring leaves, growth of this sun’s season. Again and again up into the passing clouds gaze the squirrels, transfixed every movement or so to prove the perfection of that moment. My every thought can wander far beneath the ceiling of Spring clouds, as they pass with nonchalance to circumference the green earth. A thousand bunches of lilac held purple and fragrant upon outstretched palms. The smell of yellow butterfly wings as they flit out their fragrant pattern upon the air. Between the sky blue eye and me is the shell of our original Egg, reflecting and refracting our own inner vision, the sun, into an Easter palette of colors. The pungence of eucalyptus oil follows the Monarchs’ wings as they cluster like grapes, then ripen off into the sunlit air, one by one. Broad soaring wings of the hawk ride upon the up-lifted air of this Spring sky-blue day. There has never been another more perfect, nor ever will be.

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Yellow mustard overtowers the owl’s clover, white and magenta below. The bumble bee knows both, and comes along by and by To settle its heavy furred body upon the gatherings, momentarily. I cannot sing the quiet winding song of the white butterflylets as they traverse some unseen path, until dancing and circling they find their mate. Let’s eat the clouds as we inhale heartily, sucking distant bits of them down, invisible… what cannot be said is what will remain Spring after Spring after Spring.

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Stern’s Wharf
The old pier has been resurrected. This dawn I notice it lies like an incision in the skin of a circular bay— a round rippling belly— circumferenced by the land, by the islands, folded up like bedclothes. I approach the end of the pier in hopes of falling upon that swelling navel in the center.

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To Kneel in Prayer
Your child, Mother. No need to bend my knees— on this stretch of shore, in this sphere of sky. Grains of sand, coarse on the palms of my feet. Salt bubbles rise and float into the ether. Your child, Mother. No need to bend my knees— I ask for everything.

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Collage
Sandpipers stand, Feathers brown and tan, On the sand: One leg up Hop Two legs down Walk Gracefully through the white foam Together. Stop Stand Shake the sand From between their toes, One bird then another. Two birds balance, One leg disappearing into feathers One leg reappearing As the foam subsides. Sleeping standing at the seaside, Sandpipers hide their heads In the brown and tan feathers.

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The Sirens
The sea maidens’ voices are wafting To me, From across the vast sea, Lilting a lullaby. I float out upon the waters for awhile . . .

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Conception Cremation
The sea is singing a lullaby— Ashes are falling Through the still salt air. Translucent aqua mirage Stretches and sways on the ripples. The sea is singing a lullaby— Ashes are falling Like rose petals Towards the grass-green sea. Pink leaves pile soft Upon the translucent sighs of the sea. The sea is singing a lullaby— Ashes are falling Upon the calm sea: Lotus flowers upon a grey pond. Ashes, ashes. Brown sea-trees lap at the surface; Their fingers knead the grey wafers. The sea is singing a lullaby— I chose well this gentle cradle.

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The Basket
My parents would launch the three of us In our skiff from the sandy shore, Running and pushing us forward Against the surf. They placed me in the foremost bow To duck under the waves As they broke over us and showered down onto my brothers. As I looked out to the empty sea, With no other body before Or beside me, I knew the fear of the Great Abyss. I was alone in the basket Being sucked out to sea.

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High Seas
Bind me to you, Lord Like a sailor to his mast In a high sea. I will not change the course You’ve set. And I am not afraid.

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Unknown Ocean
Beneath the bark, my body, The sea swells and rolls Like Your Mind, breathing— Mine a pelican on kelp, Rising and falling. My thoughts are seagulls sitting, like notes On the water, Whose beaks are turned into the breeze To spare a feather’s ruffling. Unknown birds in a line on the horizon— Gliding on Your Breath Just above the water, Mocking swells as they rise and fall, A light melody played by wind ripples.

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Les Beaux Anges
Hundreds of them, bedded down in the light sand, sleeping deep and wild. We call them angel sharks . . . my father calls them beautiful.

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Island Cove
Soft swells rolled through the cove and rushed up upon the steep shore, sending mist upwards. Wind kicked it off the cliff-tops. The cliff-point fanned upwards like the fluked tail of a whale as it dives. The cliffs just above the water were fluted like the lips of scallop shells. The cliffs. A hot wind blew dry off the island, smelling of ranchland and animals. The anchor-line groaned with the pull, the sailboat a reined animal. At sunset the moon rose full on the horizon beyond the mouth of the cove. A wake of light sped from stern to horizon. The moon played a lunar melody in cool light on the water. At sunrise the moon set round upon the cliffs, behind the cove. The sunlight teased full across the water as we sailed eastward, the sun rising out of reach, the sunlight reining back to form a brilliant bridge along the horizon.

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Island Nights
Lying on deck before sleep my mind went out to the white moon shining in my eyes, looped around the blindside and caught the tide of taut bright beams back to the boat. I was afraid I would stand up impulsively in the wind and be lifted into outer space, out among the faint stars. My mind reached out like octopus tentacles and sucked tentatively on galaxies, then stroked in synchrony back to the round planet, the flat deck. The air blew hot and dry off the hills.

Lying, arms crossed over my face, in the bunk below port deck, I felt to be the layers of sea weighted upon itself. I can taste, even now, the old sailors’ love for the sea. The sea draws fatigue from brain and limb the way a sand-pack draws poison from a jellyfish sting. The sea leaves sailors encrusted with age, but drains time from their hearts—like spiny urchins, whose inner life is a delicacy worth seeking.

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The Balance
In winter the island hillsides, mogled with the years of grazing sheep— like in the old country— are green with rain. The sea, always azure, seems to leap and fall back upon itself in raindrops— small fish with colorful scales. Way out to sea the huge manta ray is leaping— his wings reach backwards, two fine rays of tail balance parallel behind. He mocks the high-flying nighthawk, whose wings reach backwards as she rows through the sky, two fine rays of tail balance parallel behind.

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Breath of the Sea
The sea swells Like the Mind Breathing. A pelican on kelp Rising and falling; Seagulls sitting like notes upon the water— The green salt sea; Unknown birds in a line on the horizon— Mocking swells as they rose and fell: A light melody played by wind ripples. Pink rolled down softly on the open sea, And spray flew white As the Whale rolled upwards into the morning. A distant ripple began on the edges of the circular sea, My mind. And like the reverse of a pebble Dropped in the center, The ripples rolled back towards me, Closer, closer. Higher and higher the loud rushing came, As it took poles and began to spin. The deep sea seethed Beneath the weight of its pull, The Giant Whirlpool roar. The spinning tale of the Whale had begun That sucking down to Terror Of all I’d ever heard or seen. Down, down, spinning, drowning To the Earth and the sky In the sea. Under the surface The stillness absorbed me, Down through the realms Of filtered light, Where wavering shadows rule.

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Deep Dreams
Past the seaweed treetops brown Towering above the ocean floor; Inside the bubble of the belching Whale I must seek Breath long drowned. The Giant Squid comes sideways stroking, Envelopes me head to toe. Her tentacles suck at every pore Till seven layers of skin are bared; My blood seeps red as I am flayed. The pain I cannot bear In the solitude of my soul. I know I am alone In the cold, cruel waters. My bowels grow cold as I am gutted, And life is sucked from my limbs. The Light of my life Is sealing each portal, And Darkness sees itself. Struggling against the tide of death My soul is circling within my mind, Trying to kindle the Light again; Around, around I make my plea To the lifeforce fading darkly. The singular Light must find her way, I leave through the mouth and am gone.

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Sea Hags Three
Disembodied down I sink Towards the house of Sea Hag, A seamless place of No. Her’s are the walls I cannot see, Nor feel, nor dream. For within I’ve hidden all these years In Unknowing, the terror supreme. Inside Hag’s house a little girl, In a rage of terror sealed, Let go the past, Like a whisper Fallen in the night, For someone dreaming And crying out in the dark. Alone in a seamless place she cried an echo, “Never!” Yet I can see her beating heart, Deep within the walls of No, Still asking to be touched. Beneath the wide and heavy Whale road I hear my mother calling, From above the weighty ocean, Her voice clear and sweet Like Sirens, “Didn’t you hear us calling? Come in for dinner!” And the spell of that silent place Of bloodcurdling screams Is split apart; The cord is cut And I open my eyes to the light.

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Interlude
What a surprise— the taste of my knee after so many years.

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Longhair Rode a Black Pony
Pixie, you seal-bay Morgan mare! I love you, my 11th Birthday gift. You are my poem to myself, this year the 12th— the 1st when I was ten, the first poem ever written.

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Painted Cave
Fall at the ranch Dry grasses In a clean Fall breeze And the low rays of sun Warm On pink sandstone Home to lizards and lichen Home In the Fall dry grass breeze

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Little Brown Bear
Little Brown Bear Lost his Mother, Tiny cub In a campground tree. We mustn’t help him, Mother scolds us, If Little Brown Bear Will survive. Tiny bear cub sees the children, Playing by the river-side; Mothers shun him, “He’s a wild cub” Begging by the river-side. Fall brown leaves of wind-blown Left him, Fishing by the river-side. Alone and lonely winter caving Up upon the mountain-side. He dreams of Mother, Warm and sleeping, Always by his wayward side. Spring is late dear, Dreaming over, Out he comes unsatisfied. Little Brave Bear You have wintered All alone the mountain-side. Climb the Sun-tree By the lake-side, Warm your fur and close your eyes. Dream the Summer Pine bough cradle, Join your Mother In the Sky.

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Scott Valley
Tell me the roads to the ranch house are still paved with gravel. Tell me that the fence-posts are gray, and wound with barbed wire. Tell me the ducks still paddle up Sugar Creek, through the middle of the Tri-L Ranch. Or that Betty Barnes still lives the next ranch down.

Tell me the smell of hay bales stacked high in the barn, And that children still climb to the top to make rooms of straw and make-believe. Tell me the three stairs to the living room from the kitchen are pine, And the gun rack still holds rifles over the old leather couch.

Tell me the cool smell of the cellar where Aunt Helen stored her jam. Or the mud-color of wasp nests in summer. Tell me that Mama still checks the children’s heads for ticks when they come down from the hill. Or that frost still crunches under your boots in early Fall.

Tell me that the gold-mining tailings are still piled in French Creek, And children still watch for water moccasins when they wade up the slough. Tell me cowhide still smells of burnt hair under the branding iron, And that blood spurts down on the ground when you de-horn them

37 in the old wooden chute. Tell me she still comes down to the barn every evening to be milked. And that my father still holds me in front of him on the saddle, when it’s time to learn how to ride.

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Ancestral Journey
I claim the Spirit Life of Humanity; From the time before Time Knew direction, From the time before Words Saw their names. I claim the Human Race This time from the French, In their patterns of eloquence; From the Chickasaw, Whose words were whispered On the winds of Time. Before the time when Words Saw their names, I was one among 5,000 Spoken of by the elders Since our days in the land of the setting sun. As one we walked across the prairie grasses, Toward the rising Sun, the great holy fire; Our feet felt the land through smoked elk skin moccasins, In the days of the great migration. Ababinili made us beautiful, Out of the dust of mother earth. Ababinili of the Four Beloved Things Above; Sun, Clouds, Clear Sky, And He that lives in the Clear Sky. Ababinili, the Great Composite Force. Sai Baba, my Avatara Half-way ‘round the Earth In India, the land called Bharat— You are Grandmother, You are Grandfather. In between is my body, France, The heart of Western Europe. From the heresy of her feverish madness, From her regal reign over man, I issued forth across the sea, One among 200,000, olive-white in the sun.

39 The Souls of my past are speaking to me Through the Flesh of my skin, As my Spirit listens quietly Of this journey again. Seven sheaths of skin Bare the Souls of my ancestors To the seven gates of the shrine, And the inward temple, my heart, The Blood, the Name Of God. Ababinili barefoot race, Red-brown and strong in the Clear Sky; One among 3,000 I walked the Trail of Tears, And then we were fewer still. The words my Grandma taught me were, Uno ihullo ishno, I love you. Yet one among 50,000 now— The tears of our ancestors, Their parting words of love, Were enough. For now we listen again to our ancient tongue Whispered on the winds of Time. And with Ababinili we walk, in the chain of love That binds us, In the footsteps of our past. Clear ‘round the globe Sai Baba, Since once I touched Her robes, Comes closer, dreaming me near, From within the voice of those who call Her Name. Japamala, like crystal beads strung together they sing; Nagarsankirtan, encircling the Earth. She conjures me through the breath of Her Word, The chain of masters and devotees, together illumined: Shiva the Great God, swallowing the poison of the world in His throat, Blue, like the skin of Krishna, blue-black like the night; Ganesha my Baba, remover of fear.

40 My Mother, my Father, my Husband, my Daughter, My Son, draw near; And in the Silence, hear Your Name. Within the middle, my heart, la France, Mon coeur, la rose, la danse. A Huguenot is born, LeFevre, Regnier: I sing our names in the waves of the sea, Where my Grammie sought you so dearly— Back in Time across the prairie grasses, Back out across the waves of the sea. The ship drips still with blood, Shed from your opened skin. Now one among 2,000,000, the blood in my heart Flows pure from the Source, Our path direct to Jesus; And Paradise appears As together we read the Word. All around the circle speaking The language of the heart, I am One among 5,000,000,000 centered Within the universal yoke, Within the skin of the race of man; For within our hearts forever we sing Our Name.

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Museum of Torture, Balboa Park: Ancestral Body, Primeval Soul
From behind heavy red curtains, the shuffle of feet only; Our turn to enter, my daughter and I— The Inquisition, Museum-housed, Because we must remember: Hard, hand-forged iron; Spikes, pincers, pikes and straps— Ancestral body bound in pain. Where the clergy, where the crowd? Ah yes, a man draws near: Shallow panting, loins sweating. I grieve she must grow up to see. Outside—the limpid lotus pond lay still and cool— Because she will remember: Primeval soul, sunlight reflected on a lotus.

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Arboretum at Palomar College
Through the rough-hewn wooden archway, Up patchwork steep-sloping steps—some wood, some rock, Some the hillside’s granite soil— I pass by massive figs, an oasis of palms, cedar and cypress, Magnolias, ripe with white blossoms. Out in front of the sprinkler’s spray, I head for dry rocks at the top; Granite boulders challenge a climb— Old strips of concrete grab a toe-hold in the cracks, A trite attempt to mend the rift. Some old bent piping leads up on the top; Wires wind down to a rusty electric box, forced open. Nearby, a rusted placard on a rock reads: OVERLOOK In Memory Of Stan Starling

“Outdoorsman”
Rolling hills, large and heavy with sweet chaparral sage, Hide the corridor of industry Between Palomar and Cal State San Marcos. Flat granite rocktops below me, Pocketed with Indian acorn-grinding bowls— Lessons overlooked.

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Epic Encapsulated
Aborigines suckle at the navel Uluru Egypt breeds Isis and Osiris, wings in the desert Ishwara, Absolute named, scintillates beyond the stars Odysseus sails the crescent of the Western sunset— Uluru rides as the world rolls, witness to sinners and saints.

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Prashanti Nilayam Before the Monsoon
Heavy grey clouds, As high, and as far as the sky. Elusive black and red butterflies Float heavily by. My tears are the monsoon You’ve been waiting for, Far away upon the Holy Land. I am the rain of tears falling all around You, Just to be near You. In answer, You become the rain. Together, We become the Land.

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Your Black & Golden Robes
The pulse rebounding between the density of granite and the ethereal sky Reverberates in my belly. The primal beat of black and white granite, the binary secret pattern of life, Pulses in my heart. Golden permeates my eyelids as the sun warms my brow off and on from behind a tree. Black blankness in my mind, the cool emptiness of shadow. Life and death my soul blinks open and shut, The arms of the cosmic dancer. Inside the belly the newborn-to-be floats in lotus; The soles of her feet folded upwards in prayer. Hands and feet have not yet taken poles; have not felt the weight of granite rocks, nor the levity of sacred skies. The body, my soul, spins in the center.

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Poem of Our Daughter: First Flight
I came home to the nest to find you already alighting here and there in the heat of your first summer. The world around expands from the navel of the nest, and you are small and looking for your mother. Looking and peeping under the woodpile, where the baby lizards zip and disappear. It breaks my heart to see you looking, for you are your own mother now.

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The Mother’s Spell
Hands clapped crisp in front of my face. The Mother’s spell The Water Broken. And like a moth from its chrysalis She flew Toward the Light.

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A Place in My Heart
I know a place where the midnight blue of Your eyes meets the rising mountain; where the white cloud rains down soft-water tears onto Mother Earth’s broad bossom. Down a steep canyon the water rushes, a waterfall…You. I watch You disappear playfully into the rocks, like a mother watching her child run and hide behind the couch pillows. She must not reach out to find him yet, but let him go, lose him in the faith of love. Countless times I’ve turned away from Your steady gaze— I cannot bear the pain of bliss. Fallen I follow, the underground river, blinded for days by the dark wet rocks; winding down the skirts of the earth, finally to the sea. You buoy me up, rising to the surface, like a fragrance, the salt-sea air. The sea breeze lifts Us, leaping out over the sand. And as my feet dance down upon the wet beach, I see You are my son, sitting, building me a sandcastle.

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Haiku
Straw-hat sheriff boy Search dogs rescue slugs and snails Rain, wash away years Spring feeds the soil’s soul Foliage enfolds land and lake The snake lays her eggs Raindrops perch on branch Where birds alight and preen Downpour swallows both

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The Rainbow Fish
He reeled her into shore out of the still morning lake. And lying on her side, Rainbow to the sky Our son pointed straight, “Angel!, Angel!” We brought her to the kitchen sink, And tipping up again upon her side She breathed the water deep. Sharp knife on the countertop Halved her in filet, Half-Rainbow on her side. And eggs spilled from out her body, Hundreds, round and fertile, rolled. But breathing still, eye wide on her side The half with lung beneath, The other sacrificed open. And I looked, surprised, To see her still draw breath, Jaw open, and shut. And I looked, surprised, At her eye wide in fear. So I spread my palm above her eye, Showed her the way To swim the Golden Eye. Then she melted, Golden Rainbow, As I passed my palm above her eye, Angel Rainbow To the Sky.

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Barge at Butterfly Beach
Dark green trees along Butterfly Lane wind down to the sea, breeze sighing in the leaves. Birds-nests rest, shaded beneath blossoms red and yellow. A black crow perches in the treetops behind feathery eucalyptus leaves. Where is the Monarch, rust-red and free? The damp sand is warm in the sun. Swallows hail out from their nests in the fleshy cliff— the underside of their wings, barely yellow. A black man stands on the cliff-top, bare behind tall reeds. And the barge rests at the point— rust-red, green and yellow. like a wide-winged butterfly. Mist sighs up from the sand, warm beneath the hull— as if to lift it, colorful and free, out over the sea.

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Remind Me That I Have Seen A Lavendar Sea
A thin film of sea melts in flat ribbons down towards the sea, like the records of Time melting into Eternity. The white line of foam winds on like an endless thought.

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Jacaranda
Lavendar Jacaranda once again is in bloom. Never would I notice the years roll away, if not for the beautiful Jacardana. Lavendar Jacaranda. At that time of year when I begin to forget solitude, when sunlight graces late the evenings, and the nights are not so long, Then beautiful blooms the Jacaranda, lavendar with love, the embrace of life Shared With even me.

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The Riverbed
If I could lay prone at Your feet Like the winding riverbed, The bared flow of stones, Then, then I would know You. From here, I see the gentle swaying of the marsh bamboo In the wind.

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To W.W. From the Edge of a Dark Wood
At 36, I accept the challenge, my birthright nature the Poet, Goddess the myth. Prone like Sleeping Beauty among the briars, able only to dream of my Kingdom, the perfect Aurora begins to dawn. Rustling the broken twigs and thorns, my nerves, I find a few are supple still, like leaves of grass.* My breath the breeze upon the bowing blades, my light the sun bending along the shining arcs. Nadir of nature am I alive in love with my Prince whose lips express their breath from mine, forever quivering one upon the other, enfolded and lapping like the ebb and flow of my beating heart. He the pinnacle of creation beats the pulse below my navel. blossoms the rose of scintillating petals, mingling, lingering, evaporating like the sweat of our palms as they fall limply apart. Life-blood, the breath, the light have commingled and melted opaque among every pore, as the pulse begins to beat of its own in my belly. Heaven above my billowing hair is open, Hell below my steadfast feet is closed. with levity and gravity I spin, the spinning wheel ‘round, the silken filaments of life intertwining.

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Private chamber housing myself within myself. My belly, breasts and buttocks swelling round like the earth. The Prince within forever and without, with never a seam of separation, fully whole. Contracting pulse within me, beating and bleeding its way out. The belly tightens and bows with its burden. The breath panting and sweating, the light radiating in and out from heaven and earth to the center, my Soul, the perfect babe born into eternity.

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Sedna the Sea Goddess
There was a time when . . . The people of the first waters came down from the four houses of the wind into the navel of the earth. Anguta sacrificed Sedna to the Sea Dragon and grown men wept. Looking back This is what I remember of that time . . .

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My Darling Friend
Do you remember, my darling friend the way we used to wear our hair, curly all the way down? The way sea salt would spring it into ringlets, and yours would cream light blonde in the sun? My freckles would darken more than yours, in the days before we learned to blush.

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Buried Treasure
When I set out for the beach, it is in search of buried treasure. When I see the jagged rocks turned up like rows of teeth, I dare to think the jaws have opened to the belly where my treasure must lie. The tide is way out on the beach to where the green sea grass lies flat upon the reef. Perhaps I will find my prey beneath the ledge of this rock, among the chitons and the orange sea sponge. The rocks are striped, sediment tipped up to the sky. Perhaps it is there, above. Clouds await their cue as the sun begins to set. I find this blue freckled starfish lovely beside the pink-puzzled one. The water in the tidepools looks pink and blue. Farther out, the sea is aqua, gold, and mauve. The sun is setting orange upon the water, the clouds bow peach. When I am through I leave the treasure buried at the beach, for I cannot even find its name.

60

Masters Three
Who am I, and where have I been? Why, to Bharat and back. I am Mother Kali, descending with gaping mouth, to devour my sons; crushing their brittle bones to dust. Their bones brittle and bruised under centuries of oppression and caste. I pulverize and release them from their pain to sacred ash. Fanning myself sitting in the shade of a tree, sweating still, pen in hand, I rattle the dry garland of skulls, the original letters to make the Veda, a poem, live. I am the Buddha, sitting still under the shade of the Bodhi tree. Straight in spine and serene of face, my compassion wholly embraces men and women of all races whose spine and marrow are corrupt, their blood burning with leukemia and the like. I empathize and burn their pain from inside out. I cremate and crush them in a last embrace to ancestral ash. Fanning myself sitting in the shade of a tree, sweating still, pen in hand, I rattle and unroll the dry scrolls, record of the descendants of Divinity, to add Myself, a poem, alive. I am the Christ, lying warm next to the leper. I know no fear for my heart bleeds only love. All miseries belong to me, I embrace and kiss them.

61 Your crown of pain is for my head alone. Patiently I await your passage through Me to holy ash. Fanning myself sitting in the shade of a tree, sweating still, pen in hand, I rattle the dry leaves of parchment, fading echo of times to come, to raise the Dead, a poem, to life. I am Mother Nature, ever forbearing the pain you do not mean to give me. I am pregnant with full breath of life for you alone. For you alone I wear these many shades of light, my child. And so it goes when light you darken within you I must offer this pain for you. This pain’s for you, your perfect poison, the antidote to burn your every cell to perfection. It is only you Yourself, do not be afraid; take the key of illness or injury and unlock your pain. Set it free into the ether, children you have opened it yourselves— the earthly atmosphere, the bubble of life breath I’ve borne, is gaping open by your own command. The black vacuum of space gapes and sucks the venom from your blood. We must obey each other, you and I, that is the law of love. Fanning myself sitting in the shade of a tree, sweating still, pen in hand, my thoughts rattle up into the limbs and supple leaves, breath of the Earth, to meet the sky, a poem, life.

62

Indian Boarding School: Red Wine – White Wine
Carter Seminary, Bloomfield Academy, poured white wine into red wine, like oil and water— Eucharist insoluble. Ababinili drowned in His own Sky, and the Four Beloved Things Above fell, like acid rain from clouds seeded with Christ— Baptism into other. Aristocratic affect tied up in a bow around her neck, a sash around her waist— Single file shackles of a chain gang. Tall white teacher with the stern chin, you looked down at her, and called her— “Filthy little savage.” There is a color-tinted picture of my mother as a schoolgirl, black hair cropped into a pageboy— Haunting blue eyes staring back. She never told me, until 60 years later, why those eyes never slept, staring into fear and searing rage— “Filthy little savage.” Her sister warned me, that with age my skin would tell the truth of white wine into red wine, and bear the pattern of oil in water— White spots on a Painted Pony. My mother told me one funny story of a schoolmate who put her head between the stair-rails and got stuck so that she couldn’t break free— Like the stocks, the guillotine.

63 White wine re-attached red’s head in stylish fashion, on backwards, teaching hands and feet the numbing ways away from mother Earth— The drunken stare away from heart. Now she stands in the center of a white-hot concrete hell, politics of the aristocratic academy, and wonders when we’ll sober up— Bare our feet to Earth, and raise clean hands to Sky.

64

Self Remembering: Promise in Meditation
For we are not self-remembering. Forgetting Mother Earth, the people are letting the chain of love that binds us together Break with every thoughtless breath. I cannot reach around myself, the Earth, for we are self-forgetting. Swimming in a sea of sameness I have no self-referral. The people have forgotten how to listen. We cannot hear each other’s cries. I have no legs, nor arms, nor head, I am annihilated. The marrow, the brain, the nerves, are on fire with the burning of doors unlocking, by the key of unknowing. The cells cannot keep their sheaths; all is swept away in the firestorm. My brain cells cannot speak to each other. There is heavy fog, the distance between us is too great, too dark. I am going away, I am far away from myself. Let me be, I just want to sleep. The people are groping for clues, but the key keeps unlocking the doors of unknowing. The perfect bond of self-referral, of differentiation,

65 is disintegrating— Love blocked by the abyss that has no substance. The paths are stripped— the golden electric current of life is dissipated. And as I awoke from this dream, the illusion of my life congealed in layers from liquid amber to solid. And the events of my life, once so alive, hung in lacquered suspension— the still-life little ants and bees of the past millennium. Then again awake I was the amber dawn. Fine filaments of light illumine my body, a maze of electric simplicity. My thoughts ride the currents far like a boat upon the tide, breath of the sea. The craft sighs and slips silently save for the buzzing of sea foam upon its sides as it glides, the eternal hum of Creation. I have died again, born into wonder. My once impassioned eyes are lowered in the reflection of Your love. Come closer, and lay with me, in the secret heaven of my heart. I will not cuckold You again.

66

Clouds on a Blue Garden Day
Breathless I float up into the chasm between the clouds. Swirling free we dance together white embracing black. The wisps and lips curl and clasp our arms together. Rolling and yawning we gape apart and within. Forget the seeds below buried shallow beneath the skin. I will rain down upon them And let the Garden tend Herself.

67

A Nesting
The gleaners small as a hummingbird are at nest-building early this year. California February Spring is full of promise. Lighter than fawn-brown, vigorous, they grapple to free bits of last year’s crepe-paper from the staples on the gazebo eves. Such surety in their bearing of good things to come.

68

The Prayer
A silent screaming in the mind. All unredeemed channels bypassed, drawn up for redemption, the offering of all one is and isn’t. Spirit pounds at the gate, demanding audience. A thousand eyes peering heavenward, A thousand mouths opened in prayer Like the upturned beaks of tiny birds awaiting their mother.

69

Neighborhood Walk
The pink-blossomed Rosebush Has become a hardened Tree . . . There is nothing to be done.

70

Sometime Death Reminds Me
I found a striped jellyfish washed up on the shore, at the end of a long beach where gentle surf met musselled rocks. Standing still over it, remembering its sting— Mama packed the red welts with cool wet sand. A little dry sand in bags of chips and hot dogs tasted good. The smell of driftwood fires, and Fourth of July fireworks— the smell of cool sand in the dark. I still love the feel of remembering plaster of Paris whales with marble eyes, sandy on the down-side shaped into the wet sand, smooth on the sunny-side up. Chitons tightened their armoured shells to the rocks, ever so slightly, when I prodded. Oh the joyful eternity of childhood. Why would it end? Those long clear mysterious tentacles dangling beneath the grape jelly-striped jelly fish— only for remembrance this time. Sometimes death reminds me, of a million unimaginable miracles, of day after summer day when nothing happened except the tides. The sound of pitch-fork tongs scraping along the sandy wet edge of a large clam, down deep. Early morning chill-to-the-bone would be forgotten

71 on eating the hot fried morsels. My feet have found a stretch of pure warm white sand to walk across. Why would I question truth? Weight of waves, heaving and lifting me up, to ride down upon them gliding, in the foaming surf. Could I forget to play? Soft hot padding of dry sand covering my body, neck to toes! The weight of belonging. At night, alone on the swings long gone, the clear black sky of stars, the ebony ocean beautiful black sea. My hair falls forward and back, as I pump and soar. The feel of heavy chains in my hands, taut and smelling metal. Oh the solitary night! Sometimes death reminds me.

72

Thanksgiving Song
I heard Your quiet Song today, like lilting notes upon a breeze from across the great river. I saw It in a stranger’s smile, a farmer in worn overalls pointing the way down the road to the rolling land where my mother and father had grown, the winter wheat rising green to meet its white slumber until Spring. Our Grandmother lay peacefully sleeping, unable to feast Thanksgiving. Though her words to us had been like music delicate and sweet, “Please give thanks to Mother Earth for me.” Your Song is in the faces young and pure of cousins come together to play in the heartland. I heard It in the caring hands of sons and daughters growing old, yet ceaselessly serving. Your face was powder white upon the pillow, skin as fine as a baby’s, shedding the cool melody of Love.

73

Teacher: Premaswarupa
Teacher, Amitaba Buddha I saw your perfection today, transparent, effulgent. You were silent, though you spoke His words. You were boundless, though you sat clothed in white. Truth met your lips, and there was no separation. I heard the Word direct from Him. And You were the embodiment of Love.

74

The Rock
Clean, like a sandstone rock, My mind waits upon the thought of You. As rain and time and tears Wear away grain by grain The hardness of years.

75

The Great Comet
Herald of the second coming, great comet, salt of the cosmos! Pushing on into the minds and spirits of our small time, like salt pulling pure water into the cells of our sleeping brains. At first the hole, of awe, left by its drawing. Then the coming on of goodness, purity. And the trailing, gentle in our memories, Of peace.

76

Willow’s Lovesong
The waxing crescent set over Moonlight Beach Strung on Willow’s necklace of Venus and Mars, Bright as twin suns in their love-dance. Mars draped his red cloak On the ocean’s rim, Stepped down naked on the sky-bed next to Venus, The sea-sky their ebony cradle For rocking the crescent between. Far away the next night rolled on Upper Ojai plateau, The moon a horned arrowhead strung on the shaft from Venus to Mars. Eros beds down in the East Where stone turns to oak And oak becomes Willow, The slender lithe dancer With the strong pale brow, Like moonlight on the Topa Topas.

77

Down to the Swimming Hole
In late fall my son and I went down to the swimming hole, down across the riverbed on a cool fall day. For the first time, in one more fall’s drought, we went out across the winding riverbed trail; Where we could talk about rocks without interruption, could meander without watching out for cars. I’d heard some high school kids come out here often, to do “stuff,” you know, drugs. But that would be during schooldays when it made a difference not a day like today, with no-one else to see them there. When had those children lost their taste for sour grass, and licking their own skinned knees? The dusty powder beneath the wide-strewn sandstone rocks hadn’t seen water since the old vineyard stakes had borne grapes, hadn’t flooded down and away to the sea since the bulldozers had shaped the rockbed to their liking. Then way across the scrub brush trail, at the cliff, at the bend below Rancho Matilija mansions, we came upon the deep and empty pool; The round boulder pool-pit opened wide beneath the cliff, Dry and bleached white beneath the Rancho’s stone border. No reason to climb down, we only marveled that we hadn’t come before, in early spring, when winter’s rain still rushed down in and beyond. And then we sat on the rocks and prayed. In early spring my son and I went down to the swimming hole, down across the riverbed in the cooling afternoon. We passed others coming back late in the day, with nods and smiles; we followed others meandering the same way as us; and the smell of new foliage from the brush by the bend led us on in the cool before dusk. The stone cliff echoed laughter and splashing;

78 children crossing the stream in old sneakers, and swimming panting across the cold clean pool, the drought forgotten. Those children looked the same—were the same ones—as all of the others I had seen before; the same ones growing up all over again, and again. Rain, a friend had told me, “It’s the most basic of blessings.” Perhaps that’s all they keep coming down for, again and again, is the rain across the riverbed in the swimming hole.

79

In Spring
In Spring when sea-cliffs tilt their wild mustard palette to the sea, pure yellow, look . . . for You alone; When Coastal sage hillsides bloom with wild mountain lilac, evanescent blue like a light blue lace nightgown . . . I am in Love. My eyes are not easily seen red with desire, Indian Paintbrush. If I close them in ecstatic expectancy, will Your blossom be there to mark the place we kissed when they reopen? Lead me like the bee, You irresistible fragrance; I will search tirelessly between the pistol and stamen for disappearing You. I cannot see You, the delicate light is so blinding; perhaps I have only imagined You, no . . . there it is again . . . before fragrance and light, that delicate nectar in my heart.

80

The Golden Egg
At dusk the sun alights lonely on the topmost crags, Like a large bird, nesting in the safety of the highest rocks. A pink cloud passes, stealing the golden yoke Into the twilight sky. Now not even the rocks own shadows. There is no illusion, all is stark, Except for the echo of a bird calling, Distant— Beyond the highest rocks, beyond the place where sunlight dissolves Into something with no name— Into the womb where the first egg lies waiting, For the rays of the first sun.

81

Brother Eagle
Golden alpine aspen leaves are falling down, upon the path that marks our way. Tell Brother Eagle, that the Reckoning is done. Our Mother has prepared his way, and I’ve caught the celestial wedding bouquet. Today I sat with Mother Eagle, high upon the granite Rock, navel of earth and womb of sky, the Stone that glacier scraped smooth for us some 10,000 years ago. We stood upon deep alpine valley’s Womb, where Mother Eagle lent to my two hands the eyes of her two wingtips, to light our way ahead today. She lent to us the four deer hooves for standing firm upon the Heart where the Cloven-one called Nature lives. The valley deep beneath us now, standing on the Sacred Mound. Turning round the circle slowly— North, East, South, and West— the western sun set on my brow. And in that setting Star I see the flaming dragon in the mountain: his blue flame is deep in me. Tell him, that it’s time to Fall— this timely Fall all Nature set herself towards sleep: Brown bear dreams cozy in his granite den, of Mother Bear, and wives, and bear cubs; Ground squirrel and chipmunk bunk down deep in their earthen burrows; Beaver, just beyond the sage-brush meadow,

82 in sweet mud huts, beneath the pond. And as we offer up to Eagle, the last of what we have to give, and at long last step down, just off the smoothest Ground— Here comes black ant upon that Herm, And a flying beetle taking in all that has just taken place. Tell him that the Reckoning is done, and Mother has prepared his way. Yet another step away, and tree squirrel chimes a meditative call from up the tall pine tree. Juniper bark still glows warm like lion’s fur, in the rays. And chipmunk comes out, just to see who it is that’s still awake and walking on her earthen mound. Tell him— that when he’s ready, to just let go, I’ve caught the celestial wedding bouquet. Now the final descent down off the Navel— yet I find him walking, still beside me— Brother Eagle, Spirit Twin. No matter that this living valley, deep around the Ancestral Mound, Is filled again 10,000 years with ice The weight of glaciers. No matter soon, or later, here

83 for within the Rock we’re bound, standing always on the Sacred Ground. Together we will always Be the Spring that melts Fall glaciers down.

84

Footsteps on Wet Sand
This morning my mother called me in from the sandbox. The dew, translucent white upon the green lawn, parted and fell dripping onto the long back of a garden snake as it slid toward the sandbox. Raising up to look at me like an old cobra, the snake transfixed my gaze, and I forgot my mother’s voice. At noon my mother took me to the high swings at the beach. I pumped as high as my growing legs could, and then we went walking on the soft warm sand. A gypsy came strolling by, looking snaggle-toothed and bony like Mother Kali herself, the goddess of death. My mother stepped aside to let her take in my eyes. The gypsy looked long, nodded a smile, and strolled on. In the afternoon I rode my bike alone to the beach at low tide. My footsteps on wet sand disappeared as I stepped lightly out of time and space. At dusk I joined the monks at the temple Sutra Hall, a small square building against the granite mountainside. Inside, infinite space and parades of past masters, and finally, the golden crown atop my own head.

85 Tonight I sit with you, my teacher Mother God, at the altar. You are translucent white like the melting dew, and He is the white cobra waiting for me. Before the blue-black midnight, when Mother Kali herself will come for me, I will sing and dance into your eyes, dear Reader, because I love You.

86

Voyage
How many days have the Islands descended from the night at dawn to float upon the horizon, these Islands in the sky? I heard of them from an old friend. And now I see them, daily alighting, upon the misted sea-sky. How many people, barefoot and brown, have watched them descend, from ancient times? Do they think of shells, buried in piles and white, bone white, beneath the wild boars’ feet. Are we thinking still, of the sunsets from the Island shores, the shellfish meals, the seal pelts. I can see the Island safely from these hills. No need to tar my canoe. I can sit in an old wind cave and be glad for animal skins in winter. How many grains of this sandstone rock have blown out to sea, to rise up upon the Island shore? How many more? Will I watch every evening, to see these Islands in the sky rise up into the Heavens? I will tar my canoe, And ride up upon them to meet You.

87

Through the Dreamcatcher
I dreamed I rode last spring’s pinto pony bareback, out across Big Meadows. Summer cumulous clouds floated white and high above the far Sawtooth Ridge, As she galloped like flight in the dreamtime. We rode on through vast meadows, past late-blooming lavender wild iris, green False Hellebore and yellow Seep-spring Monkeyflower. Past elk herds loping by. I thought of last year’s hunt, of seasoning bear fat to dress my hair. Around the bend and up Robinson Creek mid-valley floor, along the sage deer trail hooves flew. Fall leaves began to blush like she-paint colors, To turn and fall upon the forest floor, covering summer’s path of wild rose petals. I dreamed of bathing in the steaming springs pool of Big Hot in winter, of hands of our Shaman pressed ochre up under the boulder’s ledge. Then snow piled white beneath her hooves, as we passed Indian Rock and bear dens gorge. Snow weighed soft upon pine boughs and broad fir bowers. Snowflakes, like flurries of ancestral memories floating down.

88 The paint galloped up out of the silent valley, into the echoing granite bowl towards the high Sawtooth Ridge— Path to Yosemite, path to the sky. In the waning winter wind my hair streamed black along her flanks. and beyond my buckskin skirt, two lakes birthed down below the glacier as spring snowmelt quickened. Up beyond the wide sage meadow, through aspen woods, past wild lily and Indian Paintbrush. Up away from the beaver dam marshes, we rode switchbacks through the granite pass to the peaks . . . To climb the sky. Hands and hooves touch off from the rocky rim— Handprints mark our passing, as we melt, like snowflakes into sky.

89

Climb the Sky: Love Poems to Spirit

©2012 Kathryn LaFevers Evans