Monthly Archives: October 2018

Painting with Words – Part Two

My poetry volume will be out soon. It contains six distinct moods. I give a description of Part Two, which also provides the title of the book. One poem follows the intro……..

PART TWO: PAINTING WITH WORDS

I remember as a child how I blithely assumed that nature walked me when I cut school to roam the forest and rivers near my home. It brings back memories of stretching time as I explored nature’s domain. I still retain that childhood naivety about the web of life. I have always talked to birds, animals, trees, rocks and the planet. My speaking to nature provided me with an awesome, humbling sense of interconnectedness.

I have been an environmentalist all my life, long before I knew what the word meant. It emerged from an intrinsic love of nature and rapport with animals. I was often late for school, as the flowers and songbirds in the hedgerows captivated my attention, particularly in springtime, when creativity and new life exploded into being. I once attempted to explain my lateness in these terms to my schoolteacher. I was kept in at recess for my seemingly troublesome nature and made to write out 100 lines of “I will not be late for school.” I adorned my punishment schedule with drawings of birds and spring buds, and was then made to repeat the punishment. I did not understand this adult world, nor did I like it. Something in me persisted. I redid my lines, once again drawing birds on branches opening their beaks to sing joyously. I was kept in at recess for an entire week for my stubbornness, yet refused to let go of my feelings for nature. Eventually the teacher gave up on punishing me for my drawings. I was eight years old, and that is when I learned to mistrust authority figures solely concerned with control and power.

As a child I had special relationships with wild animals, in particular with one otter and a family of hedgehogs that I kept under my bed. My parents were long suffering over the stray animals I brought home, but their patience was severely stretched over the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs had to be returned to the hedgerow when I became infested with their fleas, which I passed on to my immediate family, classmates, and also to a particular schoolteacher that I was delighted to so infest!

My passion for nature was solitary; it had no encouragement from any quarter because it needed none. I have subsequently made studies of wolf and dolphin behavior, and was “adopted” by a wolf. When I first met him he was running free in the coastal mountains of British Columbia. He immediately claimed ownership — I was his! After showing me his mountain habitat and uncannily appearing every time I visited the Mt. Currie area, he chose to live with me in my hermitage in Gatineau Park forest in Quebec. It had become clear that he was a lone wolf and not part of a pack. It was in his mind to live with me in my forest home in Eastern Canada. How did he know I lived in Gatineau Park Forest in Quebec? I gave him the highly original name of “Wolfie”!

The fascination with dolphins led to many adventures, studying and swimming with them in their oceanic habitat, ranging from the Outer Hebrides in the North Atlantic, to the Java Sea north of Bali, and in the Pacific Ocean off Maui and Vancouver Island.  I was always exhilarated and totally humbled by their magnificent presence.  For me nature was never to be conquered and mastered, it was simply to see my place in a vast, interconnected, and changing web of life. 

Autumn

Trees. Dead.

Stretching fingers to the sky in pain.

Waiting for the return,

that time of warmth and renewal long forgotten,

as Fall merges with Winter’s severity.

 

The waning sky casts hues and movement to

the stillness in the lake.

Promise of a more gentle time, where winter’s cruelty

is cast aside by buds of flowers,

that insist on their dominion.

 

The evening moon,

a delicate mistress, sees it all.

The clear diamond light of spring

anticipating the aging leaves left

behind by Autumn,

shared with Summer’s bounty.

All waiting for the icy hand of Winter

to banish Autumn from the land.

 

Gatineau Forest, Quebec, 1978

 

Painting with Words

                                                         

When I published my last book, Our World is Burning, I thought I would study the writing craft more deeply. But first I had to clean out my filing cabinet, which was a total mess. I tossed stuff out and then came across a yellowing folder. It was full of forty years of my poems. Most of it was garbage but there were enough gems to create a volume made from six very different moods. This one comes from Part 5: Speaking of True Love. The volume will be published early in 2019.

Dance of the Eyes

Behind a plow of words a poet drives a furrow,

never straight.

Phrases spiral upwards as an eagle soars in a sky

with no horizon or meter.

 

Cascading into passages that hover,

tracing cosmic runes at the edge of knowing.

Words drift by on the morning mist,

a whisper of wind haunts every thought I breathe.

 

Enter the Muse – waiting wondrous so long

to grant life to this poem on dancing with the eyes

 

Slow pirouette of eyes turning en pointe,

knowing glimpses dancing with joy.

Our soft spoken adoration blows on dandelions,

creating parasols drifting to fertile ground.

 

The waltz of happiness, exhilaration of vigorous reels

leave all sadness behind –

a funeral march to banish pain elsewhere.

That was all before our eyes danced together.

 

My life lives in each glance of your eyes.

Cradled in the mosaic of green lustre smiling from you.

Gently lifting my heart you reach how deep

we bind together.

 

Connecting where the universe begins and ends.

 

Delicate curves of elegant quadrilles, staccato intensity of flamenco

and the peace of loving serenade.

We dance with our eyes, sneezy jive, convulsive samba,

cheek to cheek smooch.

 

All in place, this dance of our eyes

 

France, August 2001

Ian Prattis is a Zen teacher, poet and author. For his books go to www.ianprattis.com