Animacy, Fall, Intuition, New Moon, Poetry, Storytelling, Writing

A Poetic Prayer for the Hazel-Blue Ocean

The ocean has been on my mind.

This is partly because I visited my very favorite beach last weekend on my trip to California. A beach whose crashing waves and seaweed-decorated shoreline have been the soundtrack and playground for my childhood. I missed ki* being so much that I found myself in my stretchy jeans and chlorophyll green T-shirt swimming in the shallow surf. I was entirely unable to stay away from those hazel-blue depths and swooping embrace on a rare 80 degree Coastside day.

*After reading Robin Wall Kimmerer‘s essay, Learning the Grammar of Animacy, I’m challenging myself to use animate pronouns for living beings (plants, animals, rocks, fungi, soil…) that are not limited by the typical English gender pronouns of “he/she/they” or the object/inanimate focused “it.” Robin offers ki (singular) and kin (plural) as options. In order to see how this feels, I have chosen to practice using these as often as I can remember/notice. 

The ocean was there once again on my plane ride in those dang airplane seats always too tall for me. I found myself reading The Sun Magazine’s interview with oceanographer, marine biologist and founder of Mission BlueSylvia Earle.  Earl’s stories of being a woman scientist in the early 60’s were another reminder of the indomitable spirit of women. “You have to have a sense of humor. It’s your suit of armor,” she shares. Instead of seeing her as a scientist who happened to be female, the press often called her and her female colleagues, “aquababes.” And her male colleagues? From most, it was probably the same sentiments. Spending more than a year’s worth of waking hours underwater, Earle’s message is,

“The ocean has been the great stabilizing factor of nature, and we are destabilizing it…The ocean is the foundation of life itself.”

Taking Creative Action

Truth be told, I don’t always know what to do with the deep belonging and responsibility I feel to this home that is crumbling and shaking apart, shaking each of us with ki*. I am no longer a save-the-world person. That went out in the “doesn’t fit right” pile along with perfectionism and the masks of white privilege (which I keep discovering).

For now, my answer has been to lead with creativity and community. Actions that speak with the heart first and are so humbly universal.

I’ve recovered poetry as one of these expressions for my spirit. I write as often as I can in the swirling days of my life. My writing has felt very childlike recently and I’ve been delighted to embrace this. In this light, I just finished several pieces to submit to the We’Moon datebook. Two of these are shared below, in devotion to the waters of life and the songs inside all of us.

*Painting above is titled, Whale Song, and was inspired by my desire to be an effective steward for our oceans and all the kin who live within the great salty water-mother. I chose to feature a sperm whale after the awe I felt listening to this podcast

As always, thank you for reading.

 

Poetry for our Oceans

Eternal Memory

One day,

when I am lost in grief

and despair rules the

bones of my home,

 

I pick up a spiraling shell

on the white gloss shelf.

Like calling a friend,

I place her

to my ear.

She sings the ocean alive.

 

My hand becomes that

of a small child.

I am 1 hand and 3 fingers old,

below the golden clay cliffs

topped in crowns of ice plants,

sand gripped between my toes.

The pelicans ride the cresting

waves. Another crescendo. They fly,

tickled by water as it yields

to its hollowing fate.

 

In her white curves, I hear the song of life

beyond this day, beyond

the stories of my simple life.

 

My child heart reminds me,

It is okay to go on.

 

I pull the shell to my mouth,

ending the song of the sea,

and kiss her. In awe of her memory

of the life she knows is hers.

©️ Leah Walsh 2018

 

Underwater

Some nights

I wake up

underwater.

 

The whales

are singing.

 

I listen.

 

It will be years

before our science,

forgetting the

indigenous

roots of this field,

will know

in charts and statistics

what these whales

do now.

 

Their love overwhelms me.

 

If only the sirens could lure the men

with money bags to their islands

where the great council of elders

can remind them what it means

to be a warrior for life

while the women,

and the whales,

and the great spiderwoman

reweave the web of life

with their songs

and tears.

 

Some nights

I wake up

underwater.

©️ Leah Walsh 2018

 

Humans today are empowered with knowledge that did not exist even fifty years ago and that gives us the gift of responsibility; we have an opportunity not to lose this extraordinary living planet. –Sylvia Earle

 

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2 Comments

  1. Thelma Heyer says:

    At first glance, I did not “see” the whale in your painting. Then I wondered whether that is a second whale below it. I enjoy your blog very much, dear Leah!

    1. Thank you, Thelma! It is such an honor to have you as a reader. And you are so right, the whale is split in two. 1/2 above and 1/2 below. Just how inspiration led me, I guess. Please feel free to leave notes after you read. I always love getting them.

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