Poet’s Notebook: My poem “Children to the mountain” and brief comments

Children to the mountain


is never a dance.
It is a displacement
of love.

allows for space
and in that space
room for dreaming.

This place,
this planet wants a partner.
We know this.


The door is felt.
It is made of felt.
It is a soft door.

The door is water.
The doorknob, the wind.

It opens with the slightest push.
But first you have to find it.


The mountain
has a valley inside it
that is dreaming
for us.

It is dreaming that we will
see through it someday.

The mountain
doesn’t want to be a mountain


Dragonfly, hovering,
four wings a-blur,
you and your dream body
are one and the same.
Teach us
how to fly like that,
how to stop in midair
until we know the way.


The rain came hard,
brought thunder,
shook the foundations
rattled the rooftop,
made the ravens
argue among themselves.

What are they doing?

(Is that what they said?)

What are they thinking!
They will ruin everything!


The lightning
lit up our faces
like chalk
on a cave wall.

The brightness of our faces,
flash after flash,
alarmed us.

I held you
and for the first time
I felt your bones.


Our children are canaries.
They come from far away
where the sun is still the sun.

Tell the children not to fear the dead.
The children
and the dead
have much in common.
The past and the future,
walking together.


We will walk,
counting the days
just like children
certain words and numbers
as we go.

One is this
and everything.
Two used to be the king and queen
but now it is me and you.

Like peace,
like gratitude,
like blood,
like magic,
like power,
like balance.

Like flashes of light,

like chalk on a cave wall,
these words
we will learn anew
like first steps,
like children.
But we’re not children anymore

except to the mountain.


A little while ago, I wrote and blogged about my poem,“There is a mountain”. In that poem I am driving toward a mountain that lies far ahead of me, that “rises from the bleeding edge of familiarity”. By the time I get to it, I will have changed into an eagle and the mountain, far from overwhelming me, will be my home. I think it is obvious that that poem is about death and rebirth. That “mountain of mountains” does not exist in this, what a shaman might refer to as, the middle world. In this poem, “Children to the mountain” , the mountain itself is changing, or it wants to change. It reveals its dreaming, and, at the same time, it invites us into its dreaming. It is also a poem about birth, that is, second-birth, but there is no hurry because, even though we are adults, to the mountain we are, and will always be, children who must learn (or relearn) a sacred language that will help us to survive and maybe even flourish.

There are a couple of ways that the poem imagines our progress: first we are advised to suspend our momentum like the dragonfly, second we must learn how to move forward by incremental steps, once we know the way. Our children are described as “canaries”. They have the song. They are precious, for lots of reasons. They come from far away, just as canaries come from well, let’s say, the Canary Islands.

The poem is divided into numbered sections because, like the chalk faces in the cave, the stanzas present as bursts or flashes of images and metaphors. I will finish by saying that in this poem, we are challenged to step into our real adulthood but, at the same time, to remember that we will always be children to the mountain whose dreaming precedes us and whose longevity is measured in eons — a reminder that forming a partnership with Earth, as important as that is, is nothing compared to a mountain’s dreaming. And yet in some mysterious way, as hinted in “There is a mountain”, we can evolve to share in the mountains dreaming. The key is allowing ourselves to be reborn.


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