Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Girl About to Sink into Mudhole

There is a book of photographs of China. It was once my book but as with all things moving with us in time, it has fallen off somewhere along my path. There is a photo inside of a young girl trapped in mud. She has sunk well into it, and will not be saved.

The horrifying aspect of that photo came unglued from the image and lodged itself in my spirit, a splinter of sorts, an ice sword as if from a fairy tale for the far north of ice that cannot melt.

We cannot turn away from her
And we can do nothing

Her eyes are already accepting of this surrender of everything
As if to say
Just go, this is my fate
Pay attention to your own

Where is the rope?
Is there not an ox nearby?
Two strong horses?

But no.
She will sink
Like the glaciers will melt
She will be gone

Where is a truck and rope
Where is the simple solution
So needed
So much not there

The girl sinking into mud
Without hope of rescue
even though it is possible
Just not for her

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

King Claudius

King 👑 Claudius
A recovered fairy tale style tragedy told in the real olde style, or
a tale of revisionist history as tends to be promulgated by those readily bamboozled by the perfidious among us

Claudius, while in his first marriage to the lady Philomena, sired two daughters. The older was Genevieve, a dark beauty, and the younger, Letitia, a redhead with green eyes and melodious voice. 

Claudius, while his daughters were still babes in arms, upon seeing Philomena in the gardens laughing with a young nobleman visiting from far away, grew jealous. In his dream of a night, he saw the two of them escape in the moonlight and make love in a bower of grapes. The next morning, he came upon them sharing a breakfast of figs and honey upon the terrace and became enraged.

The nobleman hastily took his leave, and Claudius confronted Philomena with accusations of adultery. The proud queen refused to answer his assault on her dignity, and in a rage he beat her and banished her from the castle. 

Later the king spread the story through his henchmen that Philomena had not only engaged in adulterous behaviors with the nobleman, but that the two of them had hatched a plot to do away with him and take over the kingdom. According to Claudius, the plot had been foiled when the nobleman was found with poison he was pouring into the wine Philomena was about to bring to the king before bed.

Philomena had no intention of giving up her daughters, and arranged for them to be brought to her by her lady in waiting, to a stronghold in the forest where she had taken refuge. She listened with horror as her lady recounted the stories being told in her absence.  Over their life together, Philomena had spent many a mead drenched eventide at the grand table in the castle. listening to the King's endless trove of stories of evil deeds being done both within and without the kingdom. She had come to understand them as confabulations, stories built with sands of truth and mortar of pure lies. That most within the court accepted his nonsense as if God's own word had been apparent. Recognizing that Claudius had seen to it that her reputation would soon be ruined throughout all the kingdom, Philomena was forced to flee to a neighboring realm with Genevieve and Letitia. She abandoned all hope of ever returning to life in the castle. Her daughters grew in good physical health and in beauty, and yet could not help but wonder what they had lost in having been removed from the neighboring kingdom and the castle, and their birthright as princesses, by their mother.  

The terrible story of Philomena's betrayal of the king seemingly became undone by time and by her comportment that befit a lady of compassion and dignity. Philomena while deeply wounded by the stories that had circulated in the kingdom at the end of her marriage to Claudius, had thought little of them in the long years since. Her daughters, neither of them old enough at the time to string together more than two words, would not have understood what was being said had they heard the whispers in the castle.  Over a decade of life tied to the all important King had been enough adventure of that sort, and once Philomena recovered from the indignity of her abrupt exit from the castle, she made a life more to her liking. She found contemplative pleasure in planting and tending orchards and gardens, independent of all need for favors from the man who had been more trouble than he was worth. 

Of a late afternoon filled with boredom of plants and filtered sunlight or the sullen gray up country mist, the king's daughters, now old enough to have heads full of ideas of how much better life might be somewhere else, mused what castle wondrousness had been wrenched from them by their mother's foolishness. 

Claudius though kept as if a personal treasure his outrage that his kingship had been sullied by his own wife, and continued to feed that anxious cauldron of personal betrayal. In subsequent years, when the girls were of an age to visit his castle without their mother, he spoke to them directly the stories of Philomena’s supposed treachery, as they ate quail with wilted spinach and honeycomb, and caught the flirty eye of certain of the knights standing guard.

Unfortunately the young women had no way of knowing the truth about their mother. The king had seen to it that no there was no one left in the castle who remained loyal to the old queen. For her part, in earlier years, Philomena had not been able to keep her rancor as to Claudius fully hidden, and had oft times had unflattering and unloving things to say about the king. The girls grew into maidenhood with the rage their father felt for their mother trapped within them, that rancor awaiting its own birthing, as moths of fate in their chrysalises.  The distrust and betrayal felt by their mother was dimly perceived by Genevieve as richly deserved. Following the tormented path set by her father,  in the weeks of her visitations, Genevieve liberally spread her own version about the castle of not only Philomena’s dalliances with the nobleman, and the thwarted poisoning attempt, but added titillating details that made for rich table talk over pints of ale, as her embellishments found their way into the village. 

Letitia was more internally torn and could not resolve the matter in favor of either parent. She was developing a philosophy of life that held each person's truth to them, as a flame to a candle. Neither daughter took up the tales with their mother, who was unwittingly exposing the girls to the festering unresolved bile their father still harbored for her. Philomena even then as the old stories were crawling out of the swamp of unresolved disappointments of father and daughter, rested in the comfortable illusion that the King's angers like her own had dissolved in the wash of years gone by. Although generally aware of Genevieve's attitudes of disdain for her and the life she had chosen, Philomena thought of it as a natural phase that many daughters pass through where their mothers are seen as wrong through and through. She thought ahead to the days when her older child would become more forgiving and mature in her thinking. She was as unaware of the renewed tittering in the old castle as the woodpile is of the mice nesting within it, as tittering it was, a nervous sort of laughter in response to stories no one really wanted to be hearing about someone long gone from their view. 

Over a few short seasons of periodic castle visits, the rift between the old queen and King Claudius manifested in differing forms in the daughters. Genevieve grew to hate both her parents, and became obsessed with punishing them for depriving her of the life of the castle that had been taken away. First, when back with her mother, she destroyed the few things the queen had removed from the castle when she was banished. The rings and bracelets her father had given her mother vanished from the vault. A painting of the dogs of the castle was slashed with knives where it hung in the dining hall. Genevieve built a storehouse of favor with Claudius by bringing him made up tales of Philomena in exile, leading a life of decadent debauchery, until such time as she made her home back at the castle, a princess restored.

One might think her wishes fulfilled, Genevieve would settle into a life of riding the Arabian horses and having her hair set in braids with adornments of ivy and daisies, perhaps learning French and practicing a demure glance through lowered lashes. Instead, Genevieve set about to destroy the king's trust in her sister. 

Letitia had caught the eye of several young men of the court, and was enjoying the life of a sometime princess, albeit removed from the castle. Claudius had taken a new wife, a woman of frail health. Genevieve filled the king's ear with lies about her sister, accusing her of duplicity and ill will towards her father, and alluding to rumors of promiscuous liaisons about the castle. At the same time, she made confessions to the frail queen about having been raped by the king's own knights and brutalized by her mother's guards. She swore her stepmother to secrecy, saying she feared if her father knew, he would have everyone involved including her mother put to death.  The new queen Alouise begged Genevieve to allow her to share at least the identities of the castle guard who had pushed her against the wall and taken what was not theirs to even touch. But Genevieve warned her stepmother against any such betrayal, and Alouise wandered the parapets in the middle of the night when she could not sleep, wondering which among the knights standing guard below might have been the ones who hurt the king's daughter. 

Claudius, ever mindful of his own reputation and fearing it could suffer through his younger daughter’s improprieties, brought Letitia before him and forbade her from indulging in the attentions of the courtiers. He threatened to confine her to a convent if her behaviors did not improve. Once again, Claudius blamed Philomena for failing to raise Letitia with manners appropriate to a princess, and lauded the pernicious Genevieve, rewarding the older girl with travels abroad in the protection of the very knights whom she had told her stepmother were savaging her.

The unwell Queen Alouise could not bear to think of what might befall the girl in such company. She agonized over having kept the secret, understanding it was too late to act. After sleepless night upon sleepless night, she suffered a burst blood vessel in the brain and died while Genevieve was away. The girl hurried back to her father's side, meantime confiding to Letitia that she had meant to hasten the death of their stepmother with her tales of relentless, soul searing sexual abuse. This left Letitia wondering if indeed her sister's torment was due in part to having been so ill treated, or whether the tales of sexual violations were more of her sister's inventions designed to cause anguish to those who loved her. 

It seemed that wherever Genevieve inserted herself amongst the people whom she ought to have cared about, she found ways to not only do mischief but cause deep pain. Genevieve had taken a fancy to one of her sister's suitors. Letitia and the young man were secretly discussing plans to wed, and Letitia had made the grave error of sharing that secret with her sister, such was her joy in anticipation. Genevieve lured the young man, Joffrey, out in the moonlight and cried bitter tears about her sister's insanity and multiplicity of secret lovers. The foundation for these lies having already been laid in the stories of Letitia's promiscuity let the vague and pernicious tale fall into the heart of the young man like the lethal arrow intended.  Genevieve of course consoled him passionately and in so doing wooed him away from Letitia. 

After that act of cunning betrayal, Letitia abandoned her father's court and her perfidious sister, and confided ever more readily in her mother. Letitia did not however ever bring up the story of the mother’s nobleman in the garden and the poisoned wine, as she could not bring herself to repeat this story to her mother. Perhaps she was afraid to hear it might be true, or maybe she was not ready to face her mother’s unleashed and perhaps predictable pent up anger at the king. We cannot know if the course of events would have changed even had Philomena been made aware at that late date of the king’s continued lies being fed to Genevieve and Letitia, as the damage had been fully done. 

On a happier note, Philomena had also remarried, and was living a modest life in the countryside of a neighboring kingdom, where she contented herself with her pear orchards and her dogs, the kind attentions of her husband, and loving friendships with others who peopled the wooded vales. 

The time came when the king once again became enamored of a young woman, and began a time of feasting and festivals with his announcement that she would soon take the place at his side as Queen of the realm. The years had flowed by like the rivers. Long before now, he had taken pity on his younger daughter when her favorite suitor had abandoned his affections for her, and indulged Letitia's desires for a summer cottage by a lake with swans. His generosity toward her sister infuriated Genevieve, who had grown accustomed to the King's primary attention. It appeared she could not be happy if she did not receive her father's undiluted, single focused affections and interest. Claudius, unnerved by the intentions of his older daughter to occupy a primary position in the castle in the face of his intended nuptials, sent a long letter to Philomena.  He informed her that Genevieve had threatened to abandon him forever if he married again. He also said the older girl had demanded that he give her a wing of the castle and assign her a retinue of knights and ladies in waiting as befitted a queen. 

The advisors to the king, upon being told of these demands, cautioned him against giving in to Genevieve’s whims. Furthermore they informed him that both his daughters were rumored to be plotting against him. Ironically the plot was to poison the wine that was to be brought to him and his newest love interest, the lady Umberphalia. As King Claudius and Lady Umberphalia plumbed the sources of these rumors,  they uncovered a plot wherein one of the servers was to pour hemlock into the king's wine the next full moon feast day. Letitia by all reckoning had nothing to do with it and knew nothing of it. That left Genevieve. Claudius and Umberphalia were reluctant however to release either girl from suspicion.

As was his wont when matters of his daughters troubled him, Claudius called Philomena before him and expressed his outrage at the scheme one or both had planned. Letitia appeared in this audience by her mother's side, and burst out with the obvious fact that this was a duplicate story of what he had accused their mother of years before. 

Philomena was rendered speechless with the double shock of the hearing the old fabricated tales of false betrayal coming out of her daughter's mouth and the horror of Genevieve's possible level of hatred for her father.  The entire episode reeked of the penchant Philomena knew the old king had for putting forth the worst face of any matter. She fully recognized her ex-husband’s artifice at work in the tale. Her sensibility that Genevieve could not have been involved in any such plot was shattered to rock dust under the quiet counsel of Letitia who conveyed Genevieve’s expression of malevolent disdain for all of them, communicated by her stated wish for their deaths, every one of them. She heard and not for the first time the stories Genevieve had told her stepmother, and the credit the girl had taken for driving that queen to her grave. But just as Letitia could not resolve the stories told by father into a single truth, her mother could not know with certainty what part of the tales of Genevieve were embellishment and which real. She did however know that anything Letitia said was true, the younger daughter did believe. 

Philomena, whilst believing in Letitia's truthfulness, and having felt Genevieve's endless disdain enough to know the girl held a grudge long and hard, knew as well as any person alive that Claudius was prone to falsehood.  She simply could not fully accept the story about Genevieve let alone believe in any collusion between the two girls. She urged Claudius to be merciful toward their older as well as their younger daughter, expecting that if it proved impossible to eventually peel back the layers of this latest deception and arrive at truth, time would plow it all under the earth and life would go on its desultory way. Put in another way, Philomena might have said, it is not after all, all about us, but it is about the love we make and the love we keep.

Philomena pleaded on behalf of Genevieve even though her daughter had removed herself fully from her mother’s life, and no words had been spoken between them for so long that the dogs that had come along from the days of living at the castle had both died in her absence.  A new pair of dogs had grown white muzzles without ever having felt the warm touch of Genevieve, who had always slept with the first dogs in her bedroom. For Philomena who had not seen her daughter’s face since the days of yore, her heart memory was of the innocence of a girl napping with hounds and awakening with stories of dreams of sugarplums. 

Claudius had by this time confounded his sense of all three women. The old king had grown silver with age and hobbled slightly bent forward with a spine that barely served to hold him upright. He no longer knew whether Philomena had betrayed him with the long ago nobleman, nor did he care. He seemed oblivious to the damage the story had done to his family, or even that he was its author and promulgator. The idea of being poisoned by a woman he trusted felt all too familiar yet he too remained reluctant to fully accept that either Genevieve or Letitia could harbor that degree of malice. Upon being assured by his advisors that whatever concerns he entertained as to Genevieve were entirely justified, having taken to heart the lady Umberphalia's wishes on the matter as she had a keen sense of the characters of his daughters, and finally hearing whether in his sleep or while awake, hatred of him from the lips of Genevieve herself, Claudius was forced to act.  If nothing else, he would preserve his reputation and his legacy, even at the cost of his daughter's dubious affection. 

The king announced his engagement to Umberphalia, and commanded Genevieve to absent herself from his kingdom for all time. He handed her a dowry of 100 horsemen and 10000 pieces of gold in return for her promise never to return. 

The day Genevieve left, there were fires set in the woods surrounding her father's castle. Some say they were the work of Genevieve’s protectors around the kingdom, among the revelers who had passed many a midsummer night becoming intoxicated upon the wines from the castle storerooms she smuggled out for their moonlit parties, where she entertained the revelers with colorful tales of bad doings within the castle walls.  There are always plenty of people eager to believe scandal about those in high places. It was said too that Genevieve stole as much of the treasure from the king’s storerooms as would fit in her trunks, a tale fed by the king himself over pheasant and spirits the evening of his wedding several seasons later to Umberphalia. Letitia continued to spend summers in the cottage by the swan lake for many years to come, relieved at last to no longer be ridiculed and shamed by her sister. For her part, Philomena refused all further audiences with the king, absenting herself frequently from her gardens, as she and her happy husband devoted themselves and their modest treasure to the cause of protecting elephants being killed for their ivory.  

Genevieve vanished from sight henceforward. No one knew whether she had ventured onto a sunny sandy island in the Mediterranean or traded part of her retinue for passage to Africa, where some said she had joined her mother in seeking an end to trophy hunting. Philomena would have wept pearls at the return of her daughter, but alas, their separation was a permanent one. Rumors flashed periodically throughout the kingdom and some continue to this very day. It was told far and wide that Genevieve had become pregnant and it was because of who the father was that she was forced out of the castle by the combined efforts of her father the all powerful king, her estranged mother and her sorry sister Letitia, and her father's new consort, all of whom ostensibly vilified her to protect their own shadowed truths and iniquities. But no one could quite agree on who the father of Genevieve’s baby had been. Some mused it may have been the king himself, a story even Umberphalia is said to have laughed into the vaulted ceilings of the royal bedchamber. And yet, the stories persist, even at this late date and in these enlightened times.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Be Curious, Seek Truth

Sullen shadows of behaviors
Ungladdened by curiosity after truth
They fall on the sunniest of times
Hidden in that dark of voices not spoken
Fancy little lies lay in wait
Mulling their private disasters
In the places we would rather not go

Bland accusations founded in distrust
Distrust grown where compassion is lost
Compassion tied up in lies

Yes it is painful to throw the light upon these things
When they are found like fungus upon our only bread
We must learn to discern truth
Understand there is no redemption for bread gone bad

Sometimes it takes a fiend after truth
Someone who can stand to be scorched by lies
Someone brave enough to reach into the cauldron of deceit
And show us that
     Every lie has an author
     Every deception, a promoter

The only real responsibility any of us has
Is to the truth
Not to the truth as we wish it was
Or the story we are afraid might be lurking
But this
     The reality of what came before
     The honesty of what is here now
And from that
Comes the vision of a future free of the despair of the liars
And their misdeeds.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A love lost letter to my country

You and I
We had always been together
As children we wandered
blackberry patches and the furious play yards
You, always the there one
You, the accepting
You, in the face of pain
The one with the remedy

The rejecting, that too was there
Sometimes your eyes were a little too blue
To reflect the brown of mine

But we made promises
Especially you did
promises in rainbow colors
And I, I fell gratefully into your arms
And I, I fought your battles

Always aware of course that there is change
But change would be to the good
the arc, one of good
ultimately, the argument would resolve into acceptance

We murmured to each other as lovers do
of ever the brighter coming days
wine and roses, yes, and the intangibles
You called those freedom
You led me like Moses to the top of the mountain

And there, in the fickleness of one day turning to night
As I leaned into you
more hopeful
than ever before
you pushed me away

What's wrong, what's the matter
I was in a panic but I knew
I looked into your blue eyes
We have been together so long I have learned
to know rejection when I see it

Isn't there anything we can do to fix this
You shook your head and walked away

You broke up with me
You were supposed to be the one I could trust
Now when I lie awake at night
thinking and praying
Please don't do anything worse
I think on your phone messages and texts
about how you won't really hurt me
But I see you and your friends
quietly grooming the horses
ready to ride maddeningly
into the darkest of nights
I see you
I hear you
I wonder why I even
keep caring
keep wishing for blue eyed redemption

*dedicated to and inspired by Tramaine Murray*

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Watching from the Mauna

It was never my idea to become an old woman, and yet, here I am.

My sleep was haunted by dreams for my first forty or so years. By haunted I mean the same dreams would visit me on random nights. They would say "Do not discard me. Do not throw what I say here on your rubbish heap." I came to understand the dreams as messages from parts of the self that did not fully incarnate, the unconscious mind that did not forget all that came before the birth of this self. Thus the physical self connects with the spirit self.

Then came a long number of years when those dreams were quiet.  I began to write. Thoughts flowed out from my fingertips like lightning strikes, hitting whatever ground there was for me to connect to.

Freed from necessity to write to communicate corporate agendas, I made my arms and wrists sore with the words that came not from my mouth but my hands. Something I had not yet begun to contemplate was happening. I was becoming an elder, a person with a silvery top around which buzzed simple ideas that nevertheless sparkled like mica. It is in the everyday thoughts that truth can lie, or hide, or the barrage of social media nonsense can overtake the quotidian mentality much as mold grows on fruit.

It was from this cozy spot on the lanai of watchful contemplation that I absorbed the unfolding of the argument for the top of the mountain. Mauna o Wakea, Mauna Kea, the white top mountain, had been selected for an array of telescopes that worked in concert to view the universe through which we hurtle. On this island in the middle of the ocean, where the volcano gifts us a sense of the impermanence that informs our everyday lives, the temporary home of the telescopes became overnight the focus of cultural indignation. For a handful of kanaka maoli, a few cultural practitioners who had become caught up in the cloud thought of regaining the Hawaiian Kingdom, the plans for yet another telescope became anathema. The focus of their stolen kingdom, gone now over 120 years, became the Thirty Meter Telescope, that would see almost to the beginning of time.

Here in this seeing back to the dawn of our universe, in this looking forward to our first encounter with life beyond our own lump of earth, stepped the idea of the sacred mountain. The idea was put forth as a David meeting a Goliath. The voices of indigenous peoples all over the globe were gathering force, demanding restoration of their rightful lands.

The images of a strong young man dressed in kapa striding across the road in anger and allegiance to his tribe caught the attention of a popular celebrity who joined him for a moment and lending his name and face and naked chest to the cause brought global attention to the event. That event was to have been the groundbreaking ceremony for the telescope, and the ceremony was called off.

A few of the wealthy who also stride the ground led by vision had made possible the Thirty Meter Telescope. Those few people cared more about exploring the unknown than seeing their name on a stadium, owning a ball club, taking ownership of an entire major island, winning a world cup because they could buy the fastest boat in the world, or any of the usual things those who have more money than they could otherwise spend in a lifetime crave. Matching the spirit but not the size of the monetary contributions to this cause, one of the heirs to the Hawaiian kingdom who had become wealthy in the ways of old money elite, gave $25,000 dollars to the fund of the Protectors of the Mauna, for a bail fund.

And so I watched from the lanai. In the meantime, on another mountain, a lesser mauna in terms of height but not in terms of powerful mana, began a new phase of being. In Hawaiian culture, being is life. Life is breath.

At precisely the same time that this struggle ensued for control of the other mountain, Kilauea began to heave and swell. First a lava lake that had been rising and falling in a visible way for a few short years swelled up and overflowed its hole in the ground, spouting and fountaining for all to see. Then amid a series of earth tremors, hundreds per day, the lake fell and fell. It became visible only as a red light in the dark, as a plume of sulfur dioxide, volcano breath. Or exhalation.

"Pele is angry that her mountain is being abused," said a few Hawaiian people who forgot that Poliahu whose home is Mauna Kea was no friend of Pele, and unlikely to find an ally in her. If anything, Pele had become annoyed that Poliahu was pulling the attention away from her, and began a special show to regain center stage.

Much as through dreams the old collective mind communicates with the present mind, as in one's own life all the living ancestors that have come before have passed on, so the collective will of those who were here before us will assert itself. The aumakua, the ancestors, the ones who once strode upon the land where we happen to be now, are its protectors. They are protectors of the land and of the people themselves. I have felt their arms around me in the darkest of times, in the moments when I might have made terrible mistakes, where my impulse was stayed and not by any thought originating with me.

Thus one late day where the ubiquitous cloud cover on the mountain Kilauea had vanished in the hour or so before sundown, I ventured over to the caldera. The lava lake had fallen deep into the mountain, and the crowds that had swarmed the viewing areas during the twenty days or so of visible lava had dispersed. The earth movements had continued on, with noticable shaking as I sat of a morning at the dining table after breakfast, savoring the warmth of sun on my back, or that of the flames of the fire if the morning was wetly dark. In preparation for the sun falling below the horizon and the winds striking across the caldera in spiky fingers of deep cold, I had wrapped myself in layers and grabbed the camera in the hopes of catching a rare sunset with emerging planets in the dusky sky.

My car was the only one in the Kilauea overlook area. There were deep sounds emanating from the crater, a low rumbling as of a freight train in the far distance. A faint vibration was underfoot. I set out in the direction of Jaggar museum, not along the path, but treading the edge of the outer rim of the volcano, where sturdy red blooming ohi'a would frame out whatever view I chose of the coming light show.

There beneath my favorite tree a woman older than myself was chanting an oli, her long long hair white as the mountain Mauna Kea in the full on winter. I stopped a respectful distance away, and mounted my camera upon its tripod. I was able to collect a couple of images of her form against the setting sun, arms raised. I tried for a short video clip to include her voice, but the winds were all the microphone could capture.

I watched as she picked up a walking stick from the ground and came toward me. I prepared myself for possible anger that I had trained my camera upon her, and as she approached, she raised her hand in friendly greeting. Then our foreheads met in honi, sharing breath in the old way of affectionate greeting, and her hand rested upon my shoulder.

"It is good you are back here. The time has come." By back here, I understood she meant well away from the crater's edge as the sound from the volcano, Halema'uma'u, swelled from a dull rumble to a magnificent roar. The earth began to shake with a pounding ferocity. I held onto the tripod lest my heavy and expensive lens hit the ground. It was all I could do to keep on my feet, but the steady form beside me gave me extra ballast and together we witnessed the churning lava rise first in sparks of flying fountains from below the edge of the crater and then after some minutes as a flaming fiery curtain of lava striking into the purple sky.

Tears began falling in wet trails down my cheeks, squeezing out of my eyes. Once I had witnessed the Cassini Mission strike out from the planet toward Saturn. I stood upon the asphalt and watched the rocket's streaming trail out of our atmosphere, as surprising to me in that time as this massive spray of molten rock fountaining in momentous power and splendor. In another time and place, in the aftermath of my mother's departure from her body, there had come over me some sense of what it is to release mana or spirit or power of being. Here, I was watching the impossibly radiant insides of the planet shoot into the sky in thunderous glory. In those earlier times, tears had squeezed themselves out of my eyes.

Word of the new eruption spread quickly, and within minutes we were met by rangers who ushered us onto the path as cars entered the parking area and people emerged shouting in excitement, competing with the volcano's throaty deep voice. I was allowed to take down my camera while my companion spoke in Hawaiian to the ranger, who answered in English telling her to move along. She thumped her walking stick on the ground, and a new trembling began. The ranger stepped aside and spoke into a walkie talkie while she put her arm through mine and walked us into the darker area at the end of the path opposite the museum.

"Watch now," she said. "They will close the gates and soon no one will be allowed in to see this."

And truly, every eruption of late had meant the authorities held people away from even a glimpse of it, citing safety concerns that were based on worst case scenario visions of hell on earth rather than anything actually going on.

As though seeing into my thoughts, she went on. "People will get hurt. It is inevitable. All their efforts to control what will happen here are the scurrying of fire ants." She waved her arm back at the volcano, and a plume of flames shot in a narrow arc, reaching as if toward the growing crowd. Another rumbling began, and some of the crowd headed back for their cars. One car swung out backwards, and knocked a couple cutting across the parking area to the ground as someone else ran over and pounded on the backing car. The driver got out, hands to head, and bent over the couple on the ground, bending and straightening, and bending again. Official vehicles with lights flashing pulled up and blocked the parking lot entrance lane.

She said into my ear. "All these people know that they take the power of the volcano into themselves as they watch this spectacle but for most the knowing stops before it comes all the way to their thoughts. The knowing then feels like they found something in the street, a wad of money maybe."

She predicted that this massive eruption would divert attention from Mauna Kea such that the media would pull away from the protectors and the telescope would be ignored as building commenced. "Even the strong headed ones will leave the mountain and come this way, you know. The aumakua will speak to them and pull them this way. The young kanaka will claim the right to access this place once it has been closed off, and break down the silly barriers set by the park superintendent. They will not be again distracted by the idea of building on the other mountain."

I invited her to come back to the house with me, and share a libation. She smiled and said "Not tonight. I will stay on after they send the people away. A hui hou, my friend." She brought her face close enough to mine to share breath once again, then ambled off with her robust walking stick.

We had met before, the old woman with the stick and I, on that afternoon at Pu'uanahulu when she urged me to plant the iliahi trees, and suggested the flow of the lava from Pu'u O'o would stop short of Pahoa town. The earth, the ground on which we set our feet, the voices of the ancestors, they all speak to us. They do not always tell us what we may wish to hear, and their truth is as cloaked and veiled as the steam of sudden evaporation hides the lavafalls into the ocean, until it suddenly blows off and we are treated to the sight of that brilliant orange firefall.

As I sit now in the high desert late day, my grand daughter has poured a round of scotch whiskey for me and her beloved Tutu Kane Bob.  We will watch the sunset together and she will tell us about the project she will return to at the Thirty Meter Telescope in the next week. Her mother is happily in charge of her own Waldorf School in Waimea, partially funded by her daughter's employer. We all understood that what makes up our bodies started as stars somewhere very different than here, and that between us there is no distance.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Halema'uma'u ~ House of Everlasting Fire

Fireworks of the deep earth
Island expanding
Challenge our sensibilities
With your mystic molten rock oceans 
Blood of the planet
Show us the workings of your heart
We hear your deep voice 

From my home just down the human roadway
I stay tuned to your rhythm
Listen for your changes in cadence
Rush off to be close

If I had your music within myself
There would be new symphonies
Expression of my gratitude 
To be alive in this time
When discovery through technology 
Forms a marriage with matters of the Spirit

In recognition of sacred spaces
We come to Kilauea 
Experience through more than human ears and eyes
What it is
Volcano that blooms in perpetual fire
As earth's plates move above it

Here now we are together 
Reaching ever further  
Beyond the veil of the undiscovered

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

These Voices

Wherever we look there is our trace
Not a mere shadow or footprint
An automobile on the sand
Eight hundred campfires in the valley
Valley of the smokes

We set aside public lands
And use them
And use them

Those whose sensibilities are anchored in lava
Old lava grown obdurate cold impassive
These have taken up banners
Grown a collective voice
A voice that cries and shouts
Angry voices of those long displaced

Oh hear our plea
It this the voice of the requiem?
Or will they stop the vision of those who want to see
all the way to edge of the universe?

Whales of winter go
They return to their other home
Every concert ends
We fly like the geese in patterns we know
To places we understand

We are vast numbers with needs that stretch
horizon to horizon
water from the sky made to go to
vast pools those who cared for the land
cried out destruction of the temple
Mirror or valley
Water for a city or riverbed?

Each of us has displaced those who came before
leaving footprints in the ash

Know these truths
When we gather in our cities
We all drink the water from the reservoir
And if we are to understand how this all began
There are not already enough telescopes

Earth Day April 22 2015 Hawaii Island 
photo from San Francisco Examiner
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir