our gray skies pass when mango sky comes,
warm with laughter, chanting its gentle way into
the space where turtle speaks in earthy colors,
speaks in that easy way only turtle can, as one who is
at home in herself, between her plastron and carapace,
wisdom in her slow ballet; her introversion, a model
for living well in this grinding war-spun world . . .
turtle is my totem and we live on our turtle island,
she is the everyday re-enchantment of my solitary
cosmos, my solidarity with life, i read her pastoral
letters in green on green, the sweet grasses and seas,
she speaks of connectedness, the basic constituents
of enigma, wizardry, and the madness of the times
and how best to dance the madness into light, she is
essence, the unrushed cure for wretched nature-deficit,
that consuming affliction, the spawn of modern day’s
backlit screens and relentless marketers of every bilk;
turtle healing is simple peace and master lessons in
self-containment, she draws us into our meditations
and back along the first path of Maka Ina, the lost or
forgotten primal path of the earth ways and feminine
energies and the lunar cycles that whirl us heavenward
- Turtle ~ totem or power animal representing earth in Native American tradition
- Turtle Island ~ in Iroquois tradition, when the earth was covered over with water, sundry animals attempted to create land by swimming to the bottom of the ocean and hauling up dirt. Muskrat succeeded. He placed the dirt on the back of Turtle, which grew into the landmass known today as North America.
- Maka Ina ~ Lakota (Sioux) ~ “maka” is earth and “ina” is mother, so Mother Earth. Earth teachings were/are considered a path to wholeness (heaven) by the First Peoples.
© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; turtle watercolor courtesy of Gretchen Del Rio.
Several years ago I had the rather odd experience of having three shamans, two Native American and one Mexican, tell me out of the blue (I never asked) that my totem is Turtle. I think these good people had a fine sense of intuition and of the sacred and possibly were good observers. It would not be surprising or illogical for anyone to decide that an obvious introvert is a Turtle.
If you’ve never been given a totem animal, imagine one yourself. Write a poem about your personal totem. HERE is a list of Native American totems and their meanings to help you along. Take your time. Enjoy! … and if you feel comfortable, leave the poem or a link to it in the comments section below.
The need to remember
The never to forget
This list of essential tasks
On mobile, in my head.
Milk, bread, light bulbs, to live,
To bury my Nanna
Beside my Mum, Sister
Lay her casket to rest.
The need to remember
Why this delay, dither
To fulfill my Nannas
Wish to be buried here.
Join daughter, granddaughter.
I have kept her ashes
Stored in my room at home.
Close to their photographs.
I have told myself ‘Do
It!’ and nothing is done.
I cannot, will not let
Go of her. I am done.
Let her and myself down.
Must get hold of myself.
Must call the vicarage.
Must say a last goodbye.
The never to forget
As I shop these shelves
Everything on my list
That needs to be done.
My Nanna, Sister, Mum
Were my bread, milk, light.
My wife, daughter, grand
Kids are essentials now.
The need to remember,
Never to forget
One list to another
An urgent task undone.
© Paul Brooks (a.k.a. dragonwolfpaul)
PAUL BROOKS was shop assistant, security guard, postman, admin. assistant, lecturer, poetry performer, with Rats for Love and his work included in Rats for Love: The Book, Bristol Broadsides, 1990. His first chapbook was The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live. Recently published in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate, Live Nude Poems and others. Forthcoming in the spring 2017 an illustrated chapbook The Spermbot Blues, published by OpPRESS.
The recommended read for this week is Borges’ The Craft of Verse. (One of my faves.) These are the famed lost lectures given in English at Harvard University (1967/68) by Jorge Luis Borges that were transcribed (c. 2000) and published in 2002.
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