returning to dust

it is a long journey
from dust to dust
becoming and becoming
until we are
no more

today i sort the wool
rank with goat
and dirt of living –
hook out the bristle thorn,
lucerne stalks and seed debris –
air it on the table in the sun.
sinking fingers into
sun warm fleece
to say the prayers of thanks

because how can this not be holy
grown of the forest
and the sun and the earth
until shaggy with curls
and tree entangled
we meet eye to eye
on the cutting table.

harvest days spent in the goat house
conversations rising and falling into silence
while they press their soft foreheads
into dip of shoulder, leaning into us
as the long curls fall to the ground
to be gathered and sorted and weighed.

when winter comes
we will spin washed fleece
by the warmth of the fire
hearing it speak the names of our gods
from lap to hands to bobbin.

in the caterpillar soup
of this transitional phase
when all we thought we knew
of our work in the world
is being dissolved
amidst virus and enzyme and dust
that storms thick billows
from unbreathable desert.

in this time of transition and transiting,
it is the imaginal that knows
what we never knew we knew,
every thought brought forward into action
from the deep of our knowing matters,
becomes matter in the world
we want to be.

i don’t think i ever mattered to him
any more than he could have
mattered for me
and i don’t say that lightly –
i think we crystallise
the immensity of who we are
into matter – into embodied form
when we love fierce enough,
love enough to animate flesh –
to become an earthbound conduit,
sharing and shaping energy into form.
no, i don’t think we mattered
at all.

the potter sounds the cup
to test if the making is whole
a cracked cup, no matter how
fine the flaw, cannot ring
with the sound of its making.

in the same way
words written longhand
by light of tree
or moon or LED,
shaped digital and saved
by the transient gods
of data preservation,
are tested by the wind
given breath to sound them.
to hear if the note
they played from the deep
holds true.

and then what of these moments
under a summer night sky
when the space between
is no more
and the leaves
on the apple tree rustle
untouched in the moonlight
and everything ripples
ecstatic skin
in voices full soft
saying it is beautiful
it is all so beautiful.

it is the slow grind
of coriander seeds
picked early autumn
in the black stone
of mortar and pestle,
the spinach gathered
thick dewed in the morning,
it is gloved hands on the wheelbarrow
while raven shouts the sky,
it is pawpaw and kiwi and plum and grape
and chilli grown too tall to reach.
it is the slow everyday eating and being eaten
until i am here, the location,
becomes i am here,
the being.

because what do we live for
dust to dust
but this.

In response to Brendan’s excellent essay earthweal’s weekly challenge: EARTHCRAFT(a way of working)


21 thoughts on “returning to dust

  1. I agree with M – A poem that matters. There is both the slow work of the particular toward harvest, where “sinking fingers into / sun warm fleece /to say the prayers of thanks” is the greatest grace, as well as acknowledging present unremitting damage that calls for a more difficult work, where we must cultivate an imagination “that knows what we never knew we knew” and a way of working which makes of our deep matters that which matters in the world. (Reminds me of something from the gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas: “If you bring out what is inside you, what is inside your will save you. If you fail to bring out what is inside you, what you fail to bring out will destroy you.”) Even love must thresh itself on this spinning-wheel, no simple or easy thing, and it survives only with an adult imagination that says yes to what is and loves the result. The beauty and assent culminates in a harvest where “I am here, the location / becomes I am here, / the being.” That is earthcraft, and you walk us through it with great grace. Sorry to go on, but it’s stellar, Lindi. So happy you found this forum. You give me much hope. – Brendan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Brendan. I am grateful to this forum and to you for the challenges and sharing and reading and the conversation of poems that deepen and deepen. Even ones like this that I send, unsure if they are seaworthy, are received and heard with grace.
      And I do like this quote – “If you bring out what is inside you, what is inside your will save you. If you fail to bring out what is inside you, what you fail to bring out will destroy you.” – might have to chew on it for a bit. thanks again. Lindi


      1. Today was beautifully sùnny but we have been gettng really cold weather here too. 1 celsius at dawn a couple of days ago! The coldest morning in decades.


      2. Some parts of South Africa are hot, but there are a couple of different climatic zones. We are at about 34° South and on the Indian Ocean. Our weather is mostly fierce mild(borrowing from Dylan Moran) Today was min 13° max18° – raining now.


      3. I am at nearly 38 deg. South and on the Southern Ocean so we get winter gales blowing up from Antarctica. I’ve only seen the Indian ocean briefly when I travelled in Asia in my 20s. I always wanted to drive down the west coast of Oz but I’m no longer sure will happen. It looks like a beautiful ocean. From the photos I’ve seen I think of it as being greener than the Pacific which is often a sapphire blue. The Southern Ocean is often grey but when the sun’s out it goes a very soft blue. – breakfast ramblings here.- best get on with my day. Have a good one 😀


      4. That must be a fresh salt breeze fro sure. I grew up in Cape Town on the Atlantic Ocean. Swam in that icy cold water that has come directly from Antartica. Here there is still no land between the beach and Antartica so the wind can blow cold. But the water is warmer having made it’s way from the Equator. So wild to think how far these waters travel to meet the shore. Beautiful day to you. 🌱

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh WOW! My very favourite of yours, so many wonderful images and lines – the animals pressing their heads into your shoulder as the fleece is gathered, the potter testing his cup, spinach gathered thick-dewed in the morning…….a poem of such beauty and glory – the stuff of life itself. It is this that breaks my heart – it is all so beautiful, and yet there are corporations madly destroying it for money greed. Sigh. But we can sing earth’s beauty nevertheless for thankfully it is still here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you Sherry. There is no denying the ugliness in the world – and the horrific destruction that we are capable of. But I think at the heart of the matter is a lack of connection, or a forgetting who we are and how much a part of everything we are that leaves us disconnected from the earth and alone. And we try to fill that loneliness and voracious emptiness by paying the corporations to do what they do to keep us comfortable, lulled, to feed and medicate us, entertain us. I don’t know if and how we are to get ourselves out of this mess – I do know the only way is by reconnecting – by experiencing the earth as our greater body. by knowing what enough feels like.
      My hope with the writing is that it may be a way back in, a path to reconnection and reminder to myself(and perhaps others) of what is and always has been sacred. I think the beauty of the earth opens us to that possibility. And perhaps the singing of Earth’s beauty – the songs of remembering and connection can be an act of resistance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is the process that is true and alive, and you have captured that. Too many of us rely on others to do the work of living for us. No wonder we feel so isolated and alone. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So much to think about here Lindi, so carefully crafted and philosophical. Stanza 4 was my favourite because it deals with how the human idea of love tries to pun something indefinable into matter: impossible, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LIndi,

    This is a beautiful reflection of life and our connection to the world. Stanza 3 was my favorite. These lines especially resonated with me,

    in the caterpillar soup
    of this transitional phase
    when all we thought we knew
    of our work in the world
    is being dissolved

    what we never knew we knew,
    every thought brought forward into action
    from the deep of our knowing matters,
    becomes matter in the world
    we want to be.

    You have shared so much in this poem that deserves to be heard.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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