The land loves us back
Hello, doves. What a lovely thing it is to have you here.
I’m so grateful that you are.
This is all quite experimental.
I’ll learn my way through it, with you right here, as long as you’ll stand it.
Though the idea is to read you a poem—and it’s a good idea! I think, and one I intend to fully honor—what I’ve gone and done is read you a bit of an essay. It’s only a bit. And really, I love it. I hope you do too.
It comes to us from Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
She thrills at the possibility that the land loves us back, and I do too.
Here’s a secret I want to tell you:
We’ve gone and bought a bit of land. High desert, volcanic mesa, in northern New Mexico. Or more precisely, we’re trying to—we’re going to, pending all the standard questions, like, is there water? That’s the big one, really. We’ll need water to survive.
And even if there is, will it be enough? What would be enough? Enough for what? Enough to garden? A garden in the desert?
But I dream of it, I do. A sweet and humble garden of sturdy sun lovers: peppers, sage and lavender, oregano, tomatoes. Melons, maybe, squash and corn. Absolutely tomatillos. Grow boxes and a greenhouse, even. I’ve seen more done with less. But will there enough water for them? Baths I can give up. There are hot springs everywhere. We can figure out catchments, drip irrigation; if there’s way to do it, I can make it work. I say this to myself so much these days, and the wild thing is I believe it.
It’s just I love the land. I want the land to love me back.
Kimmerer holds up her belief and I eat it seed and stone. “We are linked in a co-evolutionary circle,” she writes, and then she speaks of peaches.
Tell me it’s not poetry.
But just for good measure, just in case, here’s an actual factual poem I wrote this past summer, as part of In Surreal Life. The prompt, more or less: describe the world to a friend as if you were wildly in love with it, and wanted them to be too.
Why on earth we’re dancing
We are alive, living, breathing and loving with linen, pears and pomegranates, lavender and rhyolite. Imagine for a moment how the wind would sing if it sang, but it does. Take a moment instead to close your eyes and bring yourself to simmer, yes, the good soft mud of a good soft lake, a mountain! A wonderful mountain. Beloved, the sun when the clouds burn off? An old word spoken just so, beloved. Oh, let me feed you ten thousand poems from the pockets (the pockets!) of this good soft frock, there’s room enough for us both and our ancestors, not to mention, cotton on skin drapes the body like a prayer I forgot I remember, and friends? Wherever I go they grow. Put your hand here on my heart like this before it goes to seed. Let your longing be divine. Believe me who believes in the god of your voice, a holy and honey-dipped ingress to grace, you will have what you sing into being and trees (have you heard?) can make their own weather.
Stay safe. Drink water. It’s good goddamn stuff.