the reckoning

she came so slow on silent feet
i never knew she came at all
rippled the forest floor pelt spot,
no more than shadow and light.
by morning breathless the leaves
still sang their chorus of green
but my world lived
irrevocably changed
knowing a leopard
had stalked the night.

(far away
and closer than bone
the bombs fall
and fall
and fall.)

you do of course know
as i know
that this is one narrative –
that might, that could
that will end like this
that there are other tellings
of who we are in the world
other worlds that wait still
to be told

some days
knee deep on the edge of
this fathomless ocean,
learning to hold longing
like a pebble on my tongue
beach warm and tasting salt
until the heat of day
breaks with the sky
into night swimming stars
and we submerged
and bereft of light
are slaked
and slaked again
in the dark waters
of our beautiful

strong in my hand
and big as a bird
the butterfly beats
against the glass
against my palms enclosing
until caught, wings folded
and silent.
outside i open fingers
like a carnivorous flower
releasing the dust wings
the paused shimmer
the breath of stillness
before flight

and could you still arrive
at my door empty handed,
lay down the burdens
of time passed
of said and unsaid
to be here
in the world
once more –
and could i arrive
at yours

(and far away
and closer than bone
the bombs still fall
and fall
and fall.)

there are prayers now
to be spoken by these hills –
a chorus of rippling hallelujahs
to be sung in smooth river rock.
and we have come – all of us
on hoof and foot and scale belly claw –
still now in the presence
of our own fading light.
so we the forgiven and forgiving
may live luminous
on the shores
of tomorrow

dear poet (and queen)
i wonder sometimes,
much as you are missed,
if it was not better
you left the world
when you did –
what would you have said
bright eyes creasing smiles
laughing off the shadows –
what would you have said
had you seen what happened since –
how would you have kept alive
that which was so alive in you –
watching the world you loved

(and far away
and closer than bone
the bombs still fall
and we fall
we fall
we fall)

do we yield
to this reckoning
this leaf litter hair
spine to root
bone to tree reckoning
i have not the feet anymore
to walk this back
only the being here, sinking
beneath and into this, into the skin –
this smell of earth swallowing leaf
drifting between, untethered
wanting not wanting
the feral claws, the soft pad indent
walking unseen
the ache of seasons rising in bones
shedding form and shedding again
until we are graveled tongue
feathered furred scale
nothing and unknowable
opening eyelid after eyelid
to taste the world

For Brendan at Earthweal’s weekly challenge: ANIMAL POETRY

14 thoughts on “the reckoning

  1. Lindi, I am speechless at the beauty of your words, and the truth of the knowing in this poem. Sigh. I would have to quote too many lines – just gorgeous writing. “Learning to hold longing like a pebble on my tongue………….and we fall we fall we fall.” My whole spirit came to attention as I read. Yes. This. This is where we’re at. Brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Sherry. Really appreciate your reading. So grateful for this community and for the continuing conversation at earthweal. Xx


  2. This reckoning looks around, sees within and hears distant thunder with one communal mind, animal, vegetal, mineral and mine. It holds and sustains like water, which embraces what surpasses and holds on only by letting go. I read this a joy, the peace of green things and wild thinking. A rich, brimming gift for earthweal. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A poem which rewards re-reading, and thinking, and the review of the heart which poetry brings us, marching what we know and what we only guess before us…I especially liked “slaked/and slaked again/in the dark waters/of our beautiful/unknowing…” The chorus of bombs reminds us there is as much outside to question as there is within. Beautiful work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an amazing piece of poetry. I am sort of at a loss for words, as there is so much depth and truth in each verse. I had an encounter a few years back with a mountain lion driving home on the interstate. There was something surreal about it, as if time stood still. Amen to verse 6.


  5. some weeks ago my sister sent a rushed photo of a mountain lion just down the hill from their home (a few miles south of San Francisco, overlooking the Pacific). she said the lion paused and looked back at them appraisingly, then padded off into the underbrush at an unhurried pace. what do they think, of the fences and roads that pen them (and us), the noisy cars and the ever-more silent birds? and why don’t we think that, too? ~


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