A long story

body of water and green field under blue sky photo
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So, as they used to say,

The sons of the Early One

Made the sea and the sky –

Why

No one knew,

And, with the hint of a smile,

By the night’s melody,

They made even all the winds that ran, playing,

Along the shore.

But after a long while,

Things needed a shuffle – a toss or a turn,

So, they brought about a long churn

Of the sea – and the rain

Fell, then all curled up

Like the crinkles of a leaf in the fall,

And the Wakeful One closed both His eyes

And slept and will waken again one day

To a whippoorwill’s call,

Or the pinyon jays’ cries,

But the most ancient Holy One, beyond the beginning,

Is always, in the sleeping and the awakening,

Within and beyond the day and the night

Of Evermore.

After a while though, when no one was looking

The dragon of yore

Crept

Up onto the earth and arose again,

He who believed in nothing at all,

And stalked the whole land –

Shredding

And tearing,

Causing hurt and howling too

With a horrible hiss,

Over the smoking sea,

Scattering the sand,

Until he tumbled into the dark Abyss,

And fell down, down

And then soon

After, there was peace

For the startled curlew,

So, all the big ones and the little ones and the long sea, rolling

All closed their eyes and slept

In the comfort, deep blue,

Of the dark for a while,

Till stars sailed adrift in the ever-wandering skies,

Over the lake of the softly singing, glad-winged geese,

In their feathered gown,

While the gold cup

Of the moon

Went sailing on in her cloud-ringed light

Along the bright rim of the brave sky.

**

By Sharon St Joan

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2022

The gift of forest Gods

green trees
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Mist-ringed towers drifting

And the snow petal

Remember the forest Gods

From long before

Who ruled all lands then.

It was exactly

Very, very long ago

When

The rains buffeted

The clouds in the sky

And much has happened since –

Betrayal,

Forgetting,

Diminishing,

Lessening.

The bitter knife of the wind prods

The memory;

Only the great-horned owl recalls,

And his friends.

Those Gods have gone to far worlds – away

And often hid,

To universes little known –

And yet they are not far,

Still here, alone,

While winds obey,

Because there are no moments now,

No distance,

No separation,

No illusion,

Only the reality,

Only the howl, laughing,

Of the coyote

Whose fur shines white in the moonlight,

Whose awareness is keen,

Like the eyes of the star.

Perceptions of snow –

Past worlds, wooded, green

The one true past is here now –

In the pinecone

That whistles in the January

Wind and in the juncos and white-crowned sparrows,

Who hop within the whiffs

Of the snow flurry,

In the winds of gold that fly

From the setting sun that falls

Behind the cliffs.

Gone now, the noble cow,

Wandering home in the mists,

Eternal mists of snow,

Of times that were and are

And are again to be

When the Gods guard the way,

To protect the sacred, snow-enchanted day

In the deep forests,

Now and yet again and evermore.

***

By Sharon St Joan

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2022

Please visit the website, https://forestvoicesofindia.com. You can sign up for the newsletter too!

Within the clouds

flock of penguins near sea
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Within the clouds

Within the mountains

Within the universe,

All things are living and alive.

The universe, a friend.

There is no death,

No shrouds

No hearse.

Only the pale shadows

That flit, mothlike

Between the standing centuries

Of drifting snow.

Only the lost call

Of the raven

Who will find his mate again nearby

In the green sheltering cottonwood tree

Only the young giants, wandering

On a dim, mistaken world

While overhead

Calling in the mist,

The Great Winged Beings

Are there

Still – soaring upward,

Friends of the night,

The sun,

And the dragons of old

Yet the fires of kindness

Burn in the night of gleaming intent,

In the eyes of Heaven

In the soul of the mountains

In the heart of the eternal world.

In the night,

In the day

That is to be,

Always here,

Always near,

While the penguins dive

Into the white-tipped waves of the Antarctic sea –

Jubilant

And ever-free.

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Within the rain

gray owl on tree branch
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Within the mystic rain

An echo

Calls toward the distant gateway

To a deer-enchanted meadow,

While the white-

Crowned sparrow

Finds her intended way

In the bobbing boat of cottonwood leaves

Along the weaving river of one day,

One

Afternoon.

Then, soon,

When the windows rush on by

From the train

That goes,

Where

No one knows,

In the evening

Of a lost spring,

In the foothills of the Western Ghats

Where the young Ganesha

Plays,

Picking lots

Of blueberries

For his mother, Parvati,

Eating a few –

Just one or two —

Trusting in the bright winds

Of eternity that growl,

That run past the rain,

Past the lumbering bears that prowl

Over the green hills of the forest of mist,

Of ashwagandha

Trees.

(Where does the rishi Agastya live now? Where

Does he walk long before the dawn

By the riverbanks of rain-washed song?)

And, way out beyond the moon

The deepening darkness – punctuated

Like the islands of the oceans,

With the star-winged flight

Of legions

Of strange-patterned flocks

Of owls, all though the night,

(Though owls do not really fly in flocks)

Now the hours of dark have hesitated,

So the spirit, Ayanar, patrols

The village outskirts, his course

Goes round and round,

Brave on his tall horse,

Who, now and then, drops his head to drink,

While reflections glint within the bowls

Of the pool by the stream,

There pings

The lilting sound

Of tadpoles

Who play among the rocks,

All waiting to grow into frogs that will sing

Deep songs

Within the dream,

To bless the mystery of the being of all souls

Who are the One Soul – Brahman,

While the rain falls

Within the silver calls

Of the long-eared owl,

Awake, in the ever-misted night.

© Copyrght, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Do you see the wind?

eagle in flight
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The sage brush nods her head

In deference to the sun —

Quite —

Juniper branches wave,

Exultant.

Tiny, brave

Plants rustle in delight.

Did the flock

Of goats startle at the ringing

Of the bells of dawn?

The bald eagle,

With downbent beak,

The first of the season

To return,

Sails — her white head held

High,

Sky queen,

Jubilant,

The stars all gone.

Ravens call

Sparkling black in the air

At the spare

Skeleton

Of an eon past – or maybe yet to be.

An urn

Cools in the quick-running stream.

While, off the coast below,

The gill

Of the fish, finned,

Shines in the magic of the rolling sea

Waves fall

And gleam,

Snow-

Tipped in the path of the fierce wind dragon

While Meenakshi looks on

From the shore,

Sea-shelled.

Fish-eyed Meenakshi

Who danced long ago in the sea

With blue dolphins —

She came ashore

Then from the wandering sea

By the coconut palms, in the wind-deep roar,

Whose fronds bend and bow.

No.

No one sees the wind now.

No one has ever seen

The wind,

Yet the wind is there,

All around, everywhere

The living spirit who enlivens

The earth, who brings a confidant

Day; Vayu – God of the wind,

Just as the Holy One,

Who is never seen at all

Anywhere,

Nor ever heard to speak,

Except in the echoing thunder,

Yet, with nothing said,

Gives

Breath to all that lives,

Including the tall

Red

Rock –

Ancient pillars standing,

Mountains,

The strong frame of the earth, awake

By the lake

Of wonder,

Of bumblebees and lilies,

Under the moon

And the sun,

And the eagle’s wing,

In the wind,

In the wind

That runs soon

Through the open door

In the rain-blown rock.

***

By Sharon St Joan, November 2021

© Copyright, Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Saraswathi remembers

white swans on river
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On her swan-ringed island

Of mist and falling petals

Of song, Saraswathi stands

Holding the wild scent

Of the lilies of eternity

In her silver hand,

Her fingers braiding bright

Visions

Of the dawn-lit past

Of myth-hatched eons

Long ago

Singed in the flames

Of endings

Half-forgotten though,

Their names,

In the days that followed after

Of snow

And white-

Drifting mountains.

On the lapping lake

Pairs of swans sail

And shake

The water from their wings

Their white and gray cygnets trail

Behind

All in a row

Bobbing on the ruffled waves.

Up on the granite cliff

In the rock-cut caves

In tall

Jars

Of stone

Are ranged the rolls of palm leaf scrolls

That caught the words

Of poems flown

The whispering of languages, long gone,

That went on the wandering wind,

On the wings of the waters

The sacred song, the notes of forest birds

The sounds, the syllables, the brush strokes,

The ring of the chisel-hafted hieroglyph,

The eloquence of flowers,

All kept with care

From the child’s fist-drawn scribbles

To the holy vedas of the rishis,

Seers from the stars

All kept, with none slipped into the abyss

None swept aside

There

Are bundled reams

Of cotton

Cloth in all the colors of creation:

The pale-footed hue

Of the mourning dove and her mate,

The nestled orange feathers

Of the northern flicker,

The banded tail

Of the sharp-shinned

Hawk,

Shades of the stout

Trunks of the ficus

And the teak

The red glint

Of the setting sun

Across the pebbled upland creek

The blue

Tint

Of the lotus

And the silver halo

Of the moon that beams

Through the indigo

Ocean of the swift-sailing night

All abide,

Their essence

To ride along the clouds

Of each new dawn

That sings

On the shining cosmic

Tide

Every delight

Of the dance

Of the caterpillar

On the rain-bent

Amarillis.

In the sacred annals

Of her book-filled jars

All knowledge, beauty

And infinity

All that is real

Nothing lost.

And now the swans fly

Higher

In the air

Of crystal frost

Among the green enchanted lands.

Within her magic

Translucent jars

The least stir

Is known

Of every creature

The leaping gray-pawed squirrels

The rooting snout

Of the bristle-faced, brave boar

Then too, remembered is the way

To skip

Among the stars

Or how to weave a shimmering cloak

Or fabricate

A flying ship

Or stoke

An immortal fire

Against the bane-crossed

Cold

Or travel fast

Like racing light

The path to take

To a wondrous land

Of fairies, elves, and heroes bold,

The remedy for every ill

How to ply

The sea

Of time to find the age of gold

Hidden on a cliff-faced shore

And how to make

One’s way to the deepening core

Of the moss-footed forest

In an elvan autumn,

All knowledge past

And yet to be.

Where now the kind

Laughter

Of Saraswathi?

Where the haunting notes

Of the veena?

And the light

Beat of the mringdam?

Where the bells that peel

At dawn?

Where the peace

In the mourning call

Of the swans and the flocking geese?

And where the soft bleating of the goats

Clambering up the rock-strewn hill?

All wait,

Wild and free,

Still

In the luminous blue jars

Of the drifting sky

All that shines true

One day

To be born anew

When the mist settles,

With the glad-crying swans of sunrise,

Over the mountains

Of a far country.

Written around 2010

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

If you like this poem, you might also like this website, Forest Voices of India https://forestvoicesofindia.com

Soon

brown and white mice
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Nearly gone now,

The paltry gods of arrogance,

Their feet fallen

Down the darkened slips of nevermore.

Now soon

At last (as long, so long, before)

In the crystal hour of reckoning

The petals of the sky will open and unfold

Many a shimmering ring

Of blue mist, where the sun catches

Strands of dawn, while the gold dragon stretches,

Uncoiling flaming scales.

Then winged deer will fly again on the crest of the rainbow;

The hawk will circle cliff-towers

In the high winds of freedom;

Grass will laugh in the rainshowers; 

Forests will sing

The mysteries of sun and snow

The pines and the rocks will recall fleetfooted tales

Of fairyfolk.  Then the earth will awaken

Into a radiance

Of wildflowers,

And the mouse will remember all the wisdom

Of silver moons that waxed and waned,

Of dew-bright meadows now, at last, regained.

Written around 1996

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

No

animal big fur zoo
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No space,

Nor time,

No distance,

No night, nor day,

Nowhere,

Only the bobcat who strays

Across the high slanted

Bridge

Of rock, buried in snow,

Overlooking the deep fog lake

Below.

No dance

In the white air,

Lingering, a single chime

Of the Tibetan bell.

Why

Not take

Time

To stay

A while,

Footsteps of grace,

Glimmering eyes

That do not smile.

The moon calling from far across the haunted ridge,

Enchanted

Spell,

Cast in the window,

Through the wise

Year of fire-glow,

Of softly growing snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Evening

clouds during sunset
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Did you think to thank the evening?

I am the evening,

I have a soul, old and real,

A being – an essence from another age –

The flowering sage,

Spilling gold,

The half-moon watching,

The glimmering petals of time

That bloom

Between the echoes

Of lost places,

The ravens recounting

Tales untold

Of yesteryear,

The wheel

Running on and on,

While the tadpole curls up into sleep.

Did you thank the One

Who made the evening?

Or did you assume that all came together

Just entirely by chance?

A lovely accident

With no intent?

Nothing to see,

An idle dance?

Yet the evening is a petal

On the deepening rose of time

By the haunting cliff, steep,

Blown in the owl-awakened wind,

Gently, as the clouds

Fold up into stars

And the clear sky sings

Her song with crowds

Of hummingbirds that chime,

Recalling the embers

Of lilting Septembers

From far, far away,

Traces of rain remembered,

The wall of China

Winds around the rolling hills,

From lands long ago

In the swirling snow.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021

Written September 14, 2021

Red cliffs

grand canyon during golden hour
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Within the red cliffs

Walk the feet of Shiva

Through the eternities of endless eons

In the sacred smoke of the kiva

Snow-

Flakes falling

Within the perceptive

Eyes

Of the pygmy owl,

Reflecting skies

Where green dragons

Sail over the seas and all the caves

Long gone,

Waves

Washing up along the coast

Where still,

Knives

Gleam

Of thieves

Hiding in the dark,

Ninja lives,

Deceptive

Whiffs –

A spark

Of whispered words,

Clever,

Sly eyes smile.

There is the space

Where

The rainbows

Rest

A while

Before the startling storms that howl

Before the white-throated swift’s nest

High up in the rock

Gathers up the errant wings – lost almost.

All the hills become

Encircled in weaves

Of patterns within the mist

Of gray stone.

Within the rain ahead

Flocks

Of night

Rain, loud,

Bold,

That never cease,

Unerring

In their treks of flight,

Within the black armies of the castled kingdoms,

War drums

Of the cloud.

All is here now,

The bow

Of the lone,

Ghost

Ship cuts across the furrow,

And all falls

Suddenly quiet.

Torrents cease.

Winds let go.

All returns

To within the peace

Of cliffs deep red

As the autumn

Moon

In the forgotten dimensions

Of forever. Soon

Will the wild paws

Of the forest

Lions,

Tiptoe

Again, with grace

In the clear singing of the dawn

With the moon-

Enchanting meadows

Gone,

Now turned to gold,

Held in the entrancing feathers of the sun,

While rags of clouds stream

Onward to the dance.

September 10, 2021

© Sharon St Joan, 2021