Under the Mango Sky

Painted Turtle by Gretchen Del Rio c 2010, rights reserved
Painted Turtle by Gretchen Del Rio c 2010, rights reserved

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.

This poem is posted in continued solidarity with The People’s Climate Mobilization and as a response to Victoria C. Slotto’s Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt “Got Change?” on The Bardo Group today.

Victoria’s writing prompt is about change. Beyond adding my one small voice to the voices of others, I feel powerless to dramatically effect some changes that need to happen for a green and peaceful life on this Earth. These issues seem to be my major preoccupations. I want my son and my daughter-in-law and other people I treasure to grow old in a world that is stable, salubrious and kind.

In the end, my best gift to them – perhaps the best gift any of us can give to the people we love – is to honor Gandhi’s admonition to “be the change,” to let our inner work toward wholeness (heaven) combine with the inner work of others to move the flow of world culture, customs and events toward a positive tipping point. There is an old wisdom that says “each wo/man’s step forward is a step forward for all human kind.” The inherent tranquility to be found in nature helps when taking these important steps forward. This is one of the reasons we need to protect the environment. Our connection with nature and our hope for peace are inextricably bound.

“Around the world–even in some of the countries most troubled by poverty or civil war or pollution–many thoughtful people are making a deep, concerted search for a way to live in harmony with each other and the earth. Their efforts, which rarely reach the headlines, are among the most important events occurring today. Sometimes these people call themselves peace workers, at other times environmentalists, but most of the time they work in humble anonymity. They are simply quiet people changing the world by changing themselves.”  Eknath Easwaran, Your Life is Your Message: Finding Harmony With Yourself, Others, and the Earth

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved