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marianne May 2020
It starts a low rumble
sends its deepest ohm
from molten ore    up up
through ice and whirl and water
sleeping soil

more quickly now, spark and stir
jumps root to coil
smells the sky, aches for reach and measure
the other side

scorched, the soft inside of skin
touched by primal flame    up up it shoots
past fear and lists and blinking lights
nerve to neuron
fire to pen

called forth each day
by stillness
named each day, and nurtured
this first fig, this hot flash
eternal is
me
marianne Feb 2020
I don’t know how to love the questions

that blast in brawling on wild winds lashing

the sirens of warning that road rivers are rising

and goodness is vanquished—

the single certainty of more

and too much as the earth spins

off its axis.

I do know how to be still

and listen in warm morning sunlight

to the wisdom of women who tell me

that hope looks like armies of beings wielding

sunflowers and parsnip, fishtails

and dust mops singing songs of our mothers

claiming our birthright, until hearts

find earth’s drum beat, songs

turn to thunder, until groundswell—

and the many are one.

I know how to hold a long gaze

squint far into the distance

until I can

see

it
Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet
"I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."
Dec 2019 · 206
The arbutus is brave
marianne Dec 2019
The arbutus is brave
sheds itself in long, showy
strips, aflame
leaving the fair frailest
skin exposed, willing
knife’s tip of lovers’ claim
standing
even
still
holding earth together, scar tissue
marking life
line, root’s depth
patient power

I remember my infant skin
cut, the drowning, breaking surface
with half a breath remaining, and the hollow
I scratched out and burrowed into
that day, undone

Now, underneath the heat
and itch, the crust
my skin inflamed
the fair frailest part of me
thirsty for that cooling breeze, willing
fellowship with sun and knife
to shed and bump against
a tangled life

How else will roots reach down
and down
to find the source
of ancient power?
marianne Oct 2019
I look out on another fine day
aspen roughhousing with the breeze, flashes
her good morning
sun goddess smiles
Soon I will pull on my boots and gather up
the reddest and ripest, greenest
and tenderest
I will fill bowls with water
bring oats and pine bedding
give thanks for fresh eggs
Like a thousand other mornings,
and like the first

Here in the stillness, where snails slow dance
to orchestras playing a green symphony, I seek counsel
from those who have always been
who have always known—
How then, knowing this?

The wind whispers its wisdom

You have forgotten we are the same,
you are the seed, and carry all you need
inside of you


Seek the bright elemental light
in all things


Sing because you must

Give more than you take

Grow down and rooted,
reach up and outward
in equal measure


Remember you are made up of earth
and sun and ancestors—
not alone, not above
but part of


Not alone, not above
but part of


Befriend loss, for she is always
at your side


Soft-feathered necks arch
bold eyes fixed, the girls murmur
their assent
They remember the great
transformation
Read IPCC report here: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
Oct 2019 · 240
Autumn air
marianne Oct 2019
If you ask my grandmothers
they’ll say my father was a jazz man
in a pinstripe suit

When I pull up to the faded
yellow house with the worn smooth
stairs and a screen door
snap, sunflowers stoop
by the apple orchard heavy
with ants’ sweet bliss
where the day buzzes dry
but the nights are getting cooler now
the girls come running
and I hold their softness close,
breathe in the beating promise of rolling
thunder rousing wild rain
on window pane
cold winds rise, leaves will fall
velvet silence settles
foghorns blow
and inside there is music—
the kind to throw my arms
toward heaven and laugh
out loud
and there he is twinkling, fingers trip
happy across pale keys
old bones forgotten
rhythm shivers free
and we sing
we sing till there’s no breath, until my face
irons smooth, my heart
swells true

Autumn changes air to music
and music is
my home
marianne Aug 2019
She pins her hair back
twenty-three and resolute, baby on her hip
and says goodbye forever
Her eyes catch on a single point, somewhere
in the hazy distance and she sets to it
makes a life
gets **** done

There’s no time to consider,
to touch the centre of the windstorm that compels her
it only winds her tighter
and because there’s laundry to do, and she likes things
neat and tidy
she carves herself up into glistening pieces
and leaves them there—
in the hot Paraguayan sun
in the endless cold Prairie snow
when her children disappear with terrible secrets
She skillfully wraps each fluttering fragment
and gives it away, no longer her concern
God will take care of it
lucky *******
and I am left with none,
or one

I’ve only ever had a part of her
the one that read the rules and promised
clean clothes, a roof, full stomach—
her threadbare heart
elsewhere

Maybe she’s tired, like I am now—
my own list in hand
To feel is the most demanding
of tasks
marianne Jun 2019
Her heart is flushed and red and raw, beating wildly
as if her precious life depends on it
Barefaced and undivided, feet planted
or flapping madly on a wing
she feels
Danger! it sounds a warning—
she can feel her skin prickle cold
and knows it to be true
You were made for this, it whispers, your words on paper
are my fire—
blood rushes through each vessel
until her very finger tips are dancing
and she knows it to be true

My heart is smooth and pale and pink, wrapped tightly
in thin plastic cover by unseeing eyes
faraway heart
I hear my cool mind instead, it speaks
in compelling voices
not my own
Yesterday I peeled back a thin layer called shame
with tears and chin trembling—
my heart sputtered and flickered, warm
for a time
my finger tips still numb
I want to unearth my beating heart
I want to feel it on my skin
marianne Jun 2019
What happens to us—
the dispossessed, rootless
the disembodied?
We are hungry
tasting but not eating. I long for
matter
atoms so densely packed I can
see, hear, touch—
know
I want our stories spoken out loud
by mouths and minds, intact
remembered by trees old as my ancestors
in soil we made our own
Not carried by spirits lost to the winds
and scattered

Will they hear me
when I bring my fears and sorrow
in soft-beating bundles
to lay at their feet?
Will they come with kind eyes
when I call
sweetening in the summer of my life —
for help to find my way
home?

And what, when one day I catch
a hushed fragment, riding on a most
pale wisp of wind?
whiff of wood burning,
shiver of laughter,
a darkness
not quite mine
What happens when I let go of the longing
for things apparent?
an unravelling, a swell and shimmer
of space around each atom, as I
come apart at the seams
less body, more spirit
less me,
more we

Where do our spirits rest?
If not rooted down in land and place, then
the frailest of filaments dancing
seen only in sun’s first light—
reaching out, and out     twining the other
winding together, a web of ancient pattern
staying the stars
holding us all,
whispering
marianne May 2019
I want to know where I’m from
the very place—
a finger tip touch on a globe spinning
drawn to as by magnet
a return, cup filled
with holy water
an arrival

I am a hedgewitch
navigating the slippery edge
where land meets water
body meets spirit
I meets we—
listening
unearthing the violence
of conviction, the thunderous tearing up
of roots, my people unbound
and running
where are they? (where am I?)
If not in land and place
where do our spirits rest?

There in the lowlands, eyes softening
my bones shift and settle, senses
rise and quiver, and the winds bring stories
fermented by the sun
preserved by salty ocean
retold in the language of tiny creatures
and deep roots—
those that remained

I want to lie down in soil made up of my ancestors,
embraced by bones
Apr 2019 · 520
Passage
marianne Apr 2019
Slim whispers under snowfall
warblers vanish, send a postcard
bloom and batten just a memory
while wind hurls sheeting rain
against my window—
my heart melts, open to
the inner wild,
my soul sings
words through pen on paper
I come alive
in the stillness, in the
bleak months

Sun is warming skin and soil
hatchlings calling, can you hear them?
cherry blossoms pink to bursting
while springtime beckons little faces
to my window—
my heart skips, one eye
to the quiet
still my soul’s urge
to be open to the passage
ebb and ease into
the rousing, the
bright months
I'm not quite ready for Spring yet.
marianne Mar 2019
When my proud moment isn’t on Facebook
I will hold that moment in my own two hands
touched by grace
wet with tears
giving thanks
I will feel the smooth cold glass of it
See the flash of sun sparking
new worlds in it
I will hear the harmony, and dissonance
that made it
I will smell strawberries and spring
in her hair
I will know the days and moons and moments
tears, and heart-stopping fears
of love, of trust, the holiness of her small soft hand
in mine
I will hold this moment close
longing to whoop from the treetops
wishing the world to know, this
is my proud moment—
whispering its truth
to the wind instead
It's been a good week.
Feb 2019 · 1.4k
Prayer for broken hearts
marianne Feb 2019
I pray
I pray fire
furnace roar from your centre
circling cells, sparking breath, spirit
rising

I pray honey
warm milk sober flow
as gauze, to shield and sooth
your wound

I pray kitchen tonic
sweet ferment, anise spice
molasses bitter—the nourish
and gather

I pray leaf and flower
brewed to healing power

I pray squirrel play
great leap, and hover—  
catch and clamber
chase and chatter

I pray snowdrop
nestled in cold darkness, knowing spring
always follows winter

I pray river
ancient friend steering you to salty depths
and home

I pray sun gaze deep breath full surrender
I pray blue sky long view
sleep’s cover
I pray love of a mother
I pray
For my mum, and Susie, both who are nursing broken hearts.
Jan 2019 · 803
Sometimes I am ether
marianne Jan 2019
Sometimes I am ether.
Sometimes I am aria in full voice,
focussed breath from deep within, no, deeper—
from the centre of creation itself—
my truest self expressed,
I am full to bursting.
Then, transformed again,
as surely as night follows day
I am ether and together we are the breath
of everything, rolling through mighty lungs
in symphony with the stars.
Me, then we,
always breath.
not separate
Jan 2019 · 3.6k
Earth’s heartbeat
marianne Jan 2019
I saw my mother in her bra
once,
the day her heart rose up indignant,
seized—
and brought her to her knees

She stood tincture in hand
lifelong faith in earth’s medicine
she still believed it would ease,
loosen the vice grip
(not this time)

That day I remembered—
saw her soft turtle body under the certainty
the marble godliness, life’s layers hardened into
a bullet proof vest—
I was held to that heartbeat
once,
I needed that skin like food
She was held to a heartbeat
once,
she needed that skin like food
You were held to a heartbeat
once,
you needed that skin like food

If I close my eyes in morning sun
I hear it still—
in the rhythm of the rain
silent sway
quiver of wing
lingering
deep ocean drum
seedling hum—
earth’s heartbeat
There's not just mother, there is Mother
Jan 2019 · 253
Some string and one match
marianne Jan 2019
My beloved cries out—
I bring cool cloths, rub her back, I pray
and wait, and split in two—
As one watches over, the other packs her bags
and drifts into the night

First the forest and the fog—
I am blind with darkness and use my hands
to feel my way through
the unaccounted for,
the unrecognizable, flashes
of memory dismissed
Tangled branches whip, roots rise up
tiny monsters nip,
but I don’t run
And always the presence—
thick film and sticky, bearing down
too heavy to be comfort,
and cold

There is more air here
but I see what’s next and drop
to all fours
Now I am on the rocky ocean’s edge at low tide
Here the wind rises and I know it can
spirit me away
while parts of my little body are cut away and discarded
it can spin me into ether
Here it feels free,
but not really, false promise—
I will have to return some time,
to face my broken heart

I’ve been here many times
and have what I need: layers, rain gear
soft soled shoes
(we’re on slippery ground here, pay attention)
a locket, some string
and one match
The match is my beacon, string
keeps me grounded
I know this road, and will
find my way home
Trying to befriend fear.
Jan 2019 · 163
The hallelujahs
marianne Jan 2019
There’s no mistaking the hollow,
familiar ache
there where ribs meet,
soft valley
where grief gathers and pools—

so I close my eyes and listen close
to the throb, the
gnaw, the empty space

the beat and lull
the clutch and pull

the sway and flicker
holy breath

bitter tear, honey sweet
rain on drum
the ancient thrum

slick of moss, warmth of spring
the me, the us
the everything—

Life brings life, it wants to live
it heaves and swells
to rhythmic swing

the trill, the drop
the pulse, the pause
the rise and fall
the hallelujahs
when the rhythm of my grief, finds the rhythm of the Universe
Jan 2019 · 176
Broken, too
marianne Jan 2019
Broken, like her mother
split like axe to wood, like seam ripped
insides push out, yet—
broken, she fights
yowling and kicking, she confronts
her own demons
then those others have not
broken, she battles
with righteous sword at her side
condemning hate, wounded
by disregard
broken, she demands
justice, love—
though she does not yet see
they are
one
broken, with tempest
to unleash
aim it at me, the first
to wound you, now you have a
taste of that blood
roar at the outrage, one day
you will find peace or that love is
stronger
but first, rage
Jan 2019 · 1.1k
Broken (or, Get the glue)
marianne Jan 2019
If I am made up of air and ancestors, their bones
and cells and lives
their pain, their goodness
their disregard—
whisked together in the womb, and fashioned
each day and moment a reshaping—seeking, failing
falling, concealing cracks
thick with palette knife
or finest brush

Then I am the broken sum of broken parts
chipped rim touched by tongue
leaches lead—
best to throw it out,
or get the glue

If I am made up of air and ancestors, their bones
and cells and lives
their pain, their goodness
their disregard—
whisked together in the womb, and fashioned
each day and moment a reshaping—seeking, failing
falling, concealing cracks
thick with palette knife
or finest brush

Then I am both One, and only, cherished
child of the stars, and held
even as my mothers’ arms cannot
holy, not in Salvation
but in essence,
like breath
whole and in pieces—
there’s nothing to fix
marianne Dec 2018
I will her to put her feet up, my mother with swollen ankles
She’s been standing all morning in a hot kitchen
making borscht
I bring my lawn chair close
We three are sharing lunch, the breeze
through thick cottonwood shade
cools us

“I would lock him in his room”
says my daughter, “I would kick him in the shins
and spit”

We pretend not to hear, but her words linger and I taste them,
sweet vengeance

“Stop fussing. He’s a crazy old man”
“He’s been your husband for sixty years — he should know better”
“I would hit him over the head with a frying pan”

I watch as my daughter tends to Emo the caterpillar
She adds fresh grass to the jar

“He’s had a hard life”
“We all have pain”
“I would mail him back to Siberia”

Of course she is listening—
always an ear for a good story,
for injustice

“Betrayal is learned”
“So is kindness”
“I would poke him in the eye”

I leave the zwieback for last—always best for last
Butter melts in the hollow

“It is our destiny to learn love”
She does this sometimes, shuts me up like nothing …
“I would wash his brain out with soap and …”

She stands bewildered, jar in one hand
Emo lifeless in the other—
reconciling
So there we are, holding two complicated, conflicting truths. And love is always the answer.
Nov 2018 · 1.2k
Fear is all fingers
marianne Nov 2018
I wake and it’s here,
in my shallow breath
the cold rising—
fear is all fingers, cold boney fingers coiling
squeeze lungs twisting muscles
greedy morning glory fingers reach
and wring

I fear so much—
being too cold, too hot, too fat
too hungry
untethered
too broken, too wrong, too right
unbending
giving too little, too much
missing the point
I fear 2028
rich white men
on top
waters rising, babies crying
in closets
I fear death, but pain more, I fear death
but leaving more
heights and small spaces, I fear losing
my freedom and the freedom I’ve lost
I only have one pair of feet

I fear the future

I fear the future fear imagines—
weeping mothers stinking waters
broken earth, apocalyptic
winners and losers, alone
in brambles or white rooms
passed over by
Wholeness

       My eyes tune in
to shifting light

Fear is all cold fingers and high drama—
cracking knuckles, it writes its own story
always the same score, sly rascal
and grandiose,
end to its beginning

       Feet find the cold morning floor
my fingers know the way to kettle and pen
I’ll write a different ending
Because I'd rather live in hope than in fear.
marianne Nov 2018
My mothers tell me
not with pearls in pretty velvet boxes
or words in leather-bound books
proclaimed,
but in buried memory and coiled threads
stitched together over generations—
who i am

head down pattern
repeated, deaf to its echo
ocean blue over prairie wheat over
thick mud brown turns murky
winding spinning battening
fabric woven—

a kind of fate

destined, we are women without men—
all to our children, knotted hands uncomplaining, holding
deepest love so deep it holds too tightly
standing boldly outside
the measure

obedient, we are women armed—
sharp eyed ironclad we stubbornly
manage life
mitigating disaster, securing the fray
keeping watch

doomed, we are women hard-boiled—
knowing loss, we look neither left nor right
reaching only to gods
and goddesses for friendship,
lonesome

until one day empty
and by the grace of god, I pause—
turn my eyes
and see my sisters too
marianne Nov 2018
I am an avatar
fearless defender of mortals
with yellow mom hair

I’m a wisecracking plushy
just the right size
to pull close in the night

a bright voice on the phone
soothing smile on a screen
my thumbs say i ♥︎ u a thousand times over

but not the warm body
she is wired to hold, the heart beat she’s known
since before birth

no matter the story, missing’s the same

a thousand times apart, a thousand
broken hearts
marianne Nov 2018
Steeped in the tea of my mother’s womb
a weak blend of oxygen, anxiety and grief
dregs reused, until we are both
spent

Tough cut tenderized by my fathers
no brine in the house, so use brute force instead
pummelled into submission, until I
tear

Simmering in the holy water of the church
a recipe older than Salem, uses fear as its base
and shame, until I am
nothing

It’s a ******* wonder I haven’t been swallowed whole
by the big bad wolf
or despair, though I’ve come close

Time to eat the cook
and burn the recipe
Nov 2018 · 2.3k
In the night
marianne Nov 2018
2:00 am and it’s that other-worldly heat
rising from the deepest hell, earth’s centre
extra a.f., as she would say
and she would know
at 15—
our separate bodies (spring of her life, mine between) give way
to an inevitable biology

2:00 am and another long hazy chain of women
my foremothers, and we are
single file, through burnt fields in blazing sun
walking a thousand miles
searching for god,
or our free selves—
tired faith stirs
to rightful power

Again, and a heavy grey-smudged blanket
settles around me, uneasy
I sip black tea with milk, eyes adjust, and
night becomes a friend
morning light will appear again
as it does—
fear surrenders
to the unknowable

In the night, like my bearded ancestors
shouting sermons from rough cut pulpits, doctrine
five hundred years old,
I am making peace
but laying down body, soul and mind
not arms—
a new pacifism
old as my mothers
marianne Nov 2018
not my mother, but
those before
were teachers of stillness—
to choose it, feel whole in it
bow to it
and wait…

across oceans
my mothers wrote their stories with pencil,
or fingers in thin air
words carried, indelibly
over miles and mountains
in strands and time—

waiting to be found

I see them sometimes
caught in a turning breeze
suspended in Fall colours

clinging to another mother’s web

I feel their warmth in the weak winter sun
more persistent now
following the horizon

I hear them in my dreams, the anguished ones
lead-heavy and fallen
overgrown with raveled life
and rusted

On my tongue melting like honeycake

Rising in wood fire
and spring soil

they are my words now
to tend to, crystalline
and holy

I wait
and i sing
marianne Nov 2018
the day before grief pulled up
with moving van and solemn promise
it was summer,
and i was wearing a cotton print dress,
yellow flowers and bare feet
or maybe it was my mother

that day, the day before
she was swirling slow motion
like in a movie, face to the sun flashing
through young leaves
making patterns,
arms wide

that day, the day before
i snuck a zwieback from the summer kitchen
and watched melting butter make
golden pools,
some dripped onto my dress
but i didn’t worry

that day, the day before the cold snap
wicked north wind,
the sun shone
and we were warm

butter still melts our hearts
marianne Nov 2018
to take pieces of land, like pie
purchased and stolen, like monopoly
and make it into something else,
like Europe

this was our promise

so like good soldiers
we planted our rows
cottonwood manioc peas and beans
painted flowers on walls
and floors, like our mothers
built porches for rocking chairs
to gather the children
and tell them all about it,
like refugees

the roots are deep now
but the ancient fear deeper
we glance over our shoulders, still
suspicious of our luck
awaiting the act of god that
will surely come,
like karma
Nov 2018 · 1.5k
Fifteen
marianne Nov 2018
Under a smokey sky
her kind air, and steady gaze
put a firm hand on my chest
and pushed

just hard enough to take my breath away

I am standing here still
at some distance, steadying myself, mindful
that my next step in any direction, will determine
how we walk forward
mother and daughter

Like an ee poem
where nothing-but-yourself blazes
and a single word can command a whole line, limitless
she is demanding space
to fill up as she pleases

I will step back
as she moves forward
tease us apart carefully, and wait, circling
the slippery outer edge
of infinity
marianne Oct 2018
born into an ethic of separate
and apart, knows nothing of the promise of oneness
and the slow release of held breath when I glimpse
that I’m not.

my foremothers in the summer kitchen, preserving
(1 part berries : 1 part sugar, splash of lemon)
lived the kinship of shovel sun soil hands
jam on buttered bread.

heads bowed under kerchief, shushing children, devoted
(1 part fervour : 1 part obedience, splash of sorrow)
sang the hymns of their mothers on hard benches in one voice,
one breath.

but the air is made of argon too, and contains
the breath of all others, the ones not on hard benches, or making jam
no lines in the sand made of belief or blood
not them, just us.

today with my own shovel, sifting through roots and buds
(1 part rage : 1 part faith, splash of sorrow)
I sing “Ain’t got no, I got life” at full volume with Nina, two voices
same breath.
Here is the awesome Nina Simone song I mention:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5jI9I03q8E&t=0s&list=PLkbO-DIg2u3X0gIUVKrjY4mV7YRg9rJCL&index=24
Oct 2018 · 2.8k
The Gift
marianne Oct 2018
When yes is a gift
wrapped in love wrapped in
reason wrapped
in daydream wrapped in
self doubt wrapped
in pain wrapped in    
silence—
it is likely no, wrapped
in bitterness

When no is a gift
wrapped in love wrapped in
insight wrapped    
in waking wrapped in
bloom wrapped
in shelter wrapped in
truth spoken—
it is yes,
unwrapped
Oct 2018 · 1.2k
ladybird
marianne Oct 2018
like daisies to the sun
magnet to the moon
sweet tang of peppermint
face raised with shining eyes

like dancing cabbage whites
plums clinging to the branch
roots warm in cool brown earth
hands reach and nestle close

like vines around the oak
clematis shoots in spring
sweetpeas through the fence
four arms in twined embrace

like rosehip to potent tea
hatchling to chickadee
from green to aubergine
my love is sprouting wings
marianne Oct 2018
If love is a dovetail drawer
I will turn my curious eye to the
dark inside
under ancient flowered paper
dust bits and lockets, or my mother’s
twelve-piece china
doesn’t matter
nor whether Shaker or Bauhaus
retro or rustic
how wide, weighty
or improbable

No, the corners hold secrets—
fingers that catch
the places that touch

And require practiced hands, sober skill
and a bit of glue—
to build a join of tensile strength  
to bear love’s blow
Oct 2018 · 2.3k
I am
marianne Oct 2018
I am
born on the prairie, stark clad
blue sky desert, blacktop desert, canola yellow desert
small in the great space
between us

I am
born of the mountains, wrapped
in forest standing strong-faced and tall, my
companions, rooted
my teachers

I am
born of beloved lands lost
many times over so faith becomes place
and we drift—
spirits uprooted

I am
born into the laws of my fathers, solemn
like their God, and righteous
holding fast to the book of their fathers
unyielding

I am
born of old world order imposed
on new world freedom—
the image shifts
and I blur

I am
born of the rhythm of my mothers
of life-force and flutter
small hands and steaming pots in hot kitchens
my church

I am
born of bleached fluorescent flicker
drawn into her whirling hurry
longing for rainfall and
idle play

I am
born of ghosts and tiny monsters
adrift in the hollow that bears their aching past
and tangled present
alien

I am
born of memory, my fingers carry secrets
daughter of the many mothers before me, their lives
tell the story
of mine

I am
born of the unknown, a swell in the stream
that spills into the ocean, I am
mother of many daughters
to come

...tell me who you are

— The End —