Dirt & Tomatoes
Along the way from Dolores Hidalgo
we pass burned fields
scorched by winter heat.
A girl and her boyfriend on Santo Sabados
walk along the road,
his arm casually draped
across her shoulders;
she carrying a small, clear bag
of big red tomatoes and
a pork rind the size of my back.
Their Easter treat?
Imagine his soft whispers
‘maybe we’ll go to America; maybe we’ll get a car’
offering her hope so that she’ll stay
with him nowhere,
there beside the road.
I know the dried out mesquite trees
will sprout when the rains finally come,
but now this Holy Easter they fade and die away.
Some farmers have green fields,
the ones with cash and water,
but the rest go home only
to brick shacks
with blankets for doors.
Thank God the nights are warming,
the jacarandas are in full bloom and
Christ will rise on Sunday.
But this lonely, quiet vigil,
walking in the dust,
the boy and girl in love and longing
for grace that never comes
stays in my mind.
who softly whisper
beside the passing bus,
are satisfied still that the other
listens and kisses
like the rest of us.
–MoonWynd Studio, March 30, 2013 – Mexico.
Above a murder of Mexican crows
glide in circles short caws calling
each other as they ride the current of air.
A small dog barks the turtle dove coos from 50 feet away
on some tinaco or tree.
The oversized bus for this small street
rumbles the hollow ground beneath
the pumice cobblestones beside our place.
A small plane drones gently near the scrubby hill
and children play in Spanish around the corner.
The low buzz of cars farther away flushes the soft warm air with
sounds of people buzzing from town to town.
Metal banging intermittently on the other side of the street,
the builders assembling something again.
Like clockwork the church bells start ever reminding the wayward
neighbour to come and sit and pray.
A shovel scrapes a wall for some unknown reason in between the
silly screams of a young girl playing with boys.
The canary has stopped singing for the day just as the sun lowers
behind a smokeless chimney it must love the sunshine, and so now
it rather sleeps.
At night I hear the train blasting its horn 1 mile away probably
some cow or other is crouched asleep on the track, where the
warmth of the day shadows the stones between the rails.
Another dog or twenty and now a siren,
cracks the gentle peace in this dust blown town, here in the
Now a breeze flaps the leather leaves of the courtyard lemon tree
shaking the over-ripe fruit to fall by my feet, seconds later
the air again warm and settled.
And later past dusk another flapping up on the roof,
a large, black kite hangs over, outlined before
the purple twilight sky, over the houses
dipping and climbing and dipping and climbing again,
next door a boy holds the string.
[MoonWynd Studio - Copyright 2013. Stream of consciousness/Jan. 29, 2013.]
this light perfume
growing on the full bush
rooted in the neighbour’s yard,
spills high and over the wall
on our roof
beside where I go to peer over the
to watch a an old lady walk her granddaughter
hand in hand up the street
on their way home
in the evening,
whispering gentle truths
and motherly explanations.
Warm and pleasant barely a breeze
quivers the budding lemon tree
abundant with fruit.
In spaces small and open
between the branches of this filling tree
hummingbirds make their daily
pass over the stems and blooms
of all the flowers in the courtyard,
chirping here and there.
Sometimes they hover right outside
the window while I check the news.
A distant church bell hollows out the carving dark of night
while the sun gently lowers over the sierras
past the brown dry plain
nopal cactus and mesquite trees.
Down along the curling road
the goat tender follows the herd
shuffling on the line of path
back towards the farm
where an open wood fire roasts
the blackened kitchen,
some wonderful heat in that cold
and coming desert night.
Once the hens and roosters position themselves
for sleep up the most accessible tree,
and the cows are happily dozing,
the barking dogs in the hills somewhere
as the farmers find their short sleep.
Again, repeating centuries of habit
endless rest and work and rest and work,
tortillas for supper
and cervezas on payday.
Stars across the indigo sky
crystal cold above,
below a canyon lines the valley floor
deeper down a pool of river,
mirror mapping the constellations.
- MoonWynd Studio, Jan. 25, 2013 – Calle Allende. Stream of consciousness.
The ringing is unmistakeable.
Metal on metal
a bell of sorts
that something is coming…
I hurriedly unlock the inner doors,
unlatch the wrought iron gate
and stick my head out in to the cerrada
not sure of what I’ll see.
Down at the end the corner is covered
with people mostly women
young and old
with bags of this and that, many sizes, various shapes and bulging.
I panic but drag my bag of
cardboard, lemon peels, and
fallen leaves swept up from the courtyard,
bones, tin cans and empty bottles
cat shit in litter, chicken guts.
drag my bag of garbage
hauling down the street
cobblestones and weeds
down to the corner like
the other women, all Mexican natives.
I see one young one
sorting right there on the corner
considerate and thoughtful,
But me, I drag my bulging
bag of weekly waste and wait my turn, embarrassed.
We line up, politely, as the big white truck
backs up towards us on the slim
stone cerrada beautiful
tree-lined, fragrant vines
overhead knitting between the cables
wires and exposed electrics.
One by one the women lift
their own bags
high up to the young brown man
he disappears for some moments,
and so I hike myself up to peer
in to the massive guts of the
garbage truck I see one, two,
even three young men hovering
crouching amongst the garbage
ripping bags open
to sort the mess.
I laugh out loud
and jump back down
apologizing in my broken Spanglish
‘Sorry, I laugh, I am ‘Nuevo Gringo’”, using the masculine in error,
“Next time I’ll sort it”…and hope they understand.
My voice flutters off the uneven stones
of my cerrada
my first encounter with Basura,
and the failure on my part.
I hear a faint, disgusted grunt
coming from the back of the truck but happily walk back to the
casa, correcting my syntax “nueva gringa” the feminine,
I keep laughing at myself,
behind the iron gates, the wooden doors, the locks, and safety of the inner courtyard.
Once inside the kitchen I start to wash dishes
and think back quickly on this young man, so diligent and proud
bare hands black with dirt
combing through my rotting waste
and everyone else’s.
They come 3 times a week and each
day the clanging announces the truck
some days only one person stands waiting
and a rooster or two, a mangey dog, and crickets
on the corner.
The next day, I try to converse with
our casa’s housekeeper who also comes
3 times a week, but cannot speak English
and is illiterate.
She tells me the proper name,
“Basura” and then she smiles snidely,
which I can’t imagine, this sweet little woman who cleans the house.
Immediately I understand her,
in this moment, this conversation of sorts,
perhaps she notices her superiority
and that they are beneath her own status
as a cleaner.
She the indoor, spotless
housekeeper, who washes the floors and our laundry.
Next week I hear the clanging
but this time – Wednesday-
they’re early. It’s morning and I’m not prepared
to greet them down the street.
Oh but I have my offering, my generous gift for today,
and I need to get it to them.
Properly sorted this time, separately bagged
organics and non-, and just plain weekly garbage,
assembled and ready.
I rush to get dressed and run to the corner,
but see I have missed them;
they are already half-way down
around the corner, and
loading another casa’s waste.
I wave madly, hoping they see me “hola” I cry,
there alone standing on the street,
stupidly thinking they would back up
Watching and waving—‘nuevo gringo’–
happy to see them but sad that I’m late.
He calls to me, “Basura”? his voice trilling
anticipating another bag of garbage, hopeful
and I yell back, “Si, si senor, gracias”.
I run back quickly
rolling off the rounded stones to grab my
bag of garbage now neatly packaged for them.
And bless his soul, Basura, runs down the street
to meet me…, even after lifting and sorting and crouching all morning
in shoulder high waste on the truck.
He smiles in some recognition ‘the nuevo gringo’ from last week,
and I smile back uneasy. He takes my bag, and I almost weep,
when I see his dirty bare hands.
What can I do to help this young man, a boy of less than 20,
who lives to work in the garbage, filthy hands and future nothing
on the back of a basura truck.
I touch his arm and thank him,
“gracias”, and walk away
knowing at the very least,
I sorted my garbage for him today.
The Road Between Satara and Skukuza
In the pale caress of blue dawn sky
spreading pictures in the dry brush grass
lay contour to the flat land
by the river where it used to be,
filling in the soft yield of the mud sand
licking at the trembling feet of kudu and giraffe,
echoes short some calling
veils of bird song falling
from every tree
fluttering around me.
I hold my cup over
one long-burning candle
the same kind the Blacks use
instead of lightbulbs in tin rooms
of their tin houses
each balanced one
holding up the other
never standing straight
on the hillside
outside towns so far from here
the porch where I sleep civilized
between white sheets
housekeeping service and new soap every day
on the other side of the electric fence
that keeps me safe
from game and madness.
Magic stirs each waking creature
strange and varied
fitted to the senile landscape
sun and dust so red
the day becomes it,
after the cool comfort of morning
and happy chatter of monkeys overhead
another day and nothing changes
on the melting surface of the road between,
but seconds flow away
until the camps lie empty
and people don’t come
when wind takes over
shifting drifts of sand
in places made for entertainment,
to the disabilities of Man,
blind deaf and stupid plans
soon after the opera’s over
and the audience exclaims
to Verdi and Mozart,
still suspended pearls
in the dream-catchers of their sleeping minds
and weeping at the beauty of it all;
and weep we will,
at the beauty.
Again the night comes
quilted sky above
deeper than the sum of all the oceans
hanging over bleating herds
lifted heads sniffing at
the smell of waning moon
floating on a rivulet
in the drinking pool,
where they listen sip and wait.
The ancient ego-beast
threatens and searches
to cut out some old man’s potent medicine,
steel cages ready.
Alternating herds drink
and leave behind that hunter
to face himself reflected back
in darker places.
the surface of the road between.
For now the scent of Blue Gum
and Morukuru marks
the shadow of evening,
keeping this place
[MoonWynd Studio - Copyright 1999.]
The Longtime Canoe
In my dream last night I saw a grove of silver birches
Edge the water kissing stones
Gently back and forth
In ceaseless tribute to the moon,
And centered in my vision Strong and silent
Slipped the mighty Longtime canoe,
Slow and sure and even In to the night.
I wept openly Unashamed
When I saw it was you also there
We are caught adrift somewhere
In the ether (cyberspace perhaps)
Where etiquette proclaims
We must maintain our sanity
On the slimmest thread
Of fiber optic.
We sense the surge of feeling anyway,
Stabbing our flesh like weapons
Sharp and powerful,
Mother yearning for son
And son needing mother,
But not too much.
Now only our immediate connection
That infinite telepathic vibration
Coils us together.
[MoonWynd Studio - Dublin Street, New Westminster - 1999 - Copyright]
The high priestess
a bursting pomegranate.
I moved the palm of seeds
to a bowl and let
the dragonfly and hummingbird
suck the sweet dessert,
while I pondered holding
my growing belly,
knowing just knowing,
relocating to my womb,
my heart, my bones.
I felt the beat of tide
wash up against
my spine when I lay still,
and I learned the wonder of the universe
as I traced the path
the night before
[MoonWynd Studio - Dublin Street, New Westminster - Copyright 1998]
- For my son -
The hooker stalks her shadow
keeping vigil back and forth
hovering turning toying with
her golden hair.
Cars like hunting cats slow
to take a survey
barely covered bottom
long black boots.
I saw her again
on my way home,
across the street children run circles
in the schoolyard,
as she waits camouflaged
under the spreading tree,
on the corner of Victory Street.
Nobody’s ever heard
her cries of passion echo
in the back lane,
only her footsteps
[MoonWynd Studio - 1997, East Vancouver. For Stella, with love.]
I push you
lovingly beside the sea
so close you are
in waves He brought you
look wonder fully
at each bird picking
in the sand
ocean covers stone
covers tiny crabs
you tenderly play with
Grey dull blanket
of sky pulls the edges
of land right to the water
no chance of any sun today
But hanging high above my ocean child
an eagle circles quiet
or something moving
in the tide pool
of our experience
day of grace
we slow down
at the edge of sea.
[MoonWynd Studio - 2008]
O How beautiful
shape colour sky
symphony of morning
my God working
Early light opens
a path slow over the water
Breathe through me
I can I will I do
Sound of dawn chorus
fill my soul
[MoonWynd Studio - 2008]
I normally do
Underneath the cedar
moss and alder
my living soul resumes
the beat of heart
my busy mind
I let go
a curling fern
the reaching tree
Cold forest breathing winter
now I sleep
after the day outside
restores me into warm.
[MoonWynd Studio - 2008]
Petals falling to the lake
Tears too wash away.
By the tea house gate
I only see the locked door
Still cold as winter.
I find the stone path
One two three beyond the gate
A lantern guides me.
Past a bridge over
The lake of sorrows my heart
Keeps the summer light.
MoonWynd Studio | April 25, 2011
Sheltered hills over the pass a silver slip
of water cuts the covered land in two between
the cedars sliver of green the mist the sea
the snowy trough below
the foot of mountain.
Before at noon threading high white on white
snow geese followed long and thin the line
across the cape of white over
the sheltered hill.
Now night distant crystal lights flicker in the dark
and fog over there a string of diamonds trace
a path along the foot of mountain. Just a veil of warm
in the cold night the stillness glows ochre mandarin and gold
the winter light asleep along the neck of sheltered hill.
Beside and gliding ghost of darkened freighter
past the black of tree shadows past the foggy hill
a master seaman guides his ship in to the mirror cold harbour
comfort of city sleeping night glow of winter light.
Then soft and still the feather snow descends again past my window
in between the foot of mountain my curling cat the fire and me.
The damp of early morning caught in dreams undreamed over the
holding mountain behind the dress of snow.
MoonWynd Studio | Nov. 20, 2010