Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tree Mother of Africa

Wangari Maathai, born April 1, 1940, passed into Spirit September 25, 2011
“I’m a child of the soil,” says Wangari.
“I don’t think you need a diploma to plant a tree.”
The women learn.  They plant trees.
Teaching one another, nurturing the seedlings,
brown arms reached deep into the brown earth,
anchoring the eroding hillsides with tiny saplings.
Thirty million planted!
On the faces of rural women in Kenya, there is hope.
“I have a new dress, and I can eat!”,  says one.                                                                   “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Each seedling is watered from hand-held tin cans.                                                                     

The new forest grows, the soil stabilizes.
Animals begin to return.
“Deep in the roots,” says Wangari, “we are planting the seeds of peace.”
After thirty years of planting, nurturing and growing,
Wangari gets the Nobel Prize.
“I’m a child of the soil.”
And isn’t that you and me?                                                                                                        Aren’t  our own brown hands there, planting, waiting, mothering,
knowing all our futures are in the thin new stems, their bending and giving?
“You must empower yourself.  You must break the cycle.
You are planting hope in your life, and for your descendants.”
Wangari steps out on the Oslo balcony with her prize.
The streets erupt in ululation!
This is how we heal the Earth.
This is how we heal the Earth.
This is how we heal the Earth.
“Let’s plant trees!”

Annelinde Metzner
April 2008

Listen to Becky Stone reading "Tree Mother of Africa" by Annelinde Metzner, as part of the performance "In the Mother Grove,"  2009. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Autumn Samba

The bite of fresh compost,
sharp leaf mold in the wind.
Goodbye to the galax,
farewell to the creeper,
“Adios” to the chokecherry vines.
It’s the majestic farewell,
the queen’s farewell.
It’s delicious, it’s numinous, it’s forever!
This is the goodbye of no tears but the rain’s.
Goodbye as relaxed as Guernseys in the alfalfa,
as relaxed as three women in a hot tub.
It’s goodbye, never more be seen,
and it smells like Paris perfume.
It lifts the feet. It’s Fred Astaire.
It’s a lilting “adieux.” It’s bagpipes.
It’s all the cousins waving.
Orange, red, a fandango,
it’s forever, it’s the end,
and if you twirl and spin your way down,
you’ve got the idea.

Annelinde Metzner         September 2001

Listen to Annelinde reading "Autumn Samba:" 

See the poem "Autumn Samba" in the Autumn 2011 issue of Goddess Pages edited by Geraldine Charles. 
Autumn leaves at our feet

Friday, November 11, 2011

Don't Live Here!

Grandmother puppet by Lisa Sturz 
Tourists buying postcards on Craggy Mountain never suspect me.
It’s always, “Time to get back in the car!”
just before my long, wild winds come up the hollow.
My winds always precede me.
Folks who have lived here long look for haints and boogers
when they feel me coming near.
But few have seen me. Maybe it’s my hair!
The chokecherry vines that form sort of a bouffant...
I love it when the berries ripen in autumn!
But few have seen me when I creep through rhododendron,
chokecherry and laurel for ornament.
I breathe the dark bass tones of the rhododendron thicket,
my skin like her bark, ancient, enduring.
My breath is in sync with her, unfathomable, unconquerable.
When you step into the dark places of the thicket,
your breath stops.
You’re whirled back to your own birthplace, before time began.
All over my hands are tiny red mushrooms,
rising from moss like a Mardi Gras village!
When you see my hands, you feel as though
you have swum up the bank of a rushing creek,
holding your breath until you emerge.
When you gaze into my eyes, my pupils fade into trillium,
blood-red blooms dangling at the rims, speaking in tongues.
My eyebrows are slow-creeping woolly worms, orange and black.
I float over the hills in a cape of Appalachian flowers:
Jack-in-the-pulpit, butterfly weed, flame azalea, bloodroot,
Indian pipe, chicory, pokeberry, cohosh.
My scent is of millennia of these green beings,
composting, seeding, bursting forth, decaying once more.
When you inhale my scent, you will remember your family.
Generations will array before you
in the distinct garb of your ancestors.
When you breathe my essence, you will fall and weep
at the millennia of lives willing to help you,
sponsor you, give you life.
I carry a staff of mountain ash. Don’t be afraid!
I won’t harm you! though my laughter alone
could squash you into the earth, mere compost,
cousin to the road kills, just another woolly worm.
My staff speaks of power, and that is what you fear,
citizens, tourists, quick-leavers, loud-builders, e-mail talkers.
In the landfills where I wander are your rusted bodies:
freezers, microwaves, last year’s computer.
Decades they require to rust or fade,
the plastic, the alloys, the silicon chips.
And I float to your door. I beckon you and your children’s children
when they wander too far from the flickering screen.
I speak of spice bush, yarrow, ginseng, jewelweed,
sassafras, Solomon’s Seal.
I pull you to the dark where you speak with your soul,
where life takes your breath away.
I make you pine for Life, scream for it.
I hold a mirror to this desire until all else is forgotten,
until you reach for life, until you’ll never give up,
until there on the forest floor we cry, together,
tears of joy.

Annelinde Metzner
September 1995

Listen to Nels Arnold reading  "Don't Live Here" by Annelinde,  performed at "In the Mother Grove" in 2009, with Grandmother puppet by Lisa Sturz  (photo above, Norma Bradley.)   

Rhododendron thicket

Friday, November 4, 2011

What She Is

We live in small spaces, working, eating, sleeping.
Do we know what She is, really?
How, in Arizona, She explodes up from the ground
into mile-high red rock, the Cathedral, the Hands,
or She implodes far down into Her own belly,
displaying Her inner self without secrets,
silent, awesome, vast, powerful, infinite?
Or how She riles Her cold Pacific, daily washing the Western shore,
turquoise and lapis, boulders thrown like pebbles hither and yon,
sea weed and sea lions rejoicing,
whales diving and blowing air as they pass year by year?
North, how She sets forth giant trees,
so wide and tall that each is a world,
each a life for a thousand species, Her silence immense and eternal?
And how Her blood, Water, crashes over rocks through Colorado,
worshiped by the Hopi, drop by drop,
measured enough to grow corn on the dry mesa
or wild enough to scrub the arroyos clean again?
Do we see how wide She is, how vastly new?
Do we gain that joy She intended for us,
privileged as we are to be Her guests?

Annelinde Metzner
August, 2003

        Listen to "What She Is" read by Nels Arnold (with choreography by Shelli Stanback) in the 2009 performance of my work, "In the Mother Grove."

Shelli Stanback and Nia Dancers perform "What She Is"