Thursday, December 28, 2017


Sunset on the marsh

Coming home to St. Helena’s, 6 PM,
the autumn sunset is a blood orange,
then a thin line bleeding into indigo
over the vastness of the inland marshes.
O Mystery!
You weigh on me beautifully,
like a coat of fur.
My “not-knowing” cushions me all around,
as if my soul were my Mother cautioning me,
“not yet, not yet,
you don’t understand this yet.....”
The evening’s profound quietude
is a not-knowing,
heavy as owl’s wings,
almost imperceptible among the ancient oaks.
I sit back and breathe,
as more and more I see I do not know;
the night grows darker, quieter still,
and like a child sliding under an ancient quilt
sewn by many hands,
I give up, and fall asleep.

Annelinde Metzner
St. Helena’s Island, SC
November 10, 2017


Friday, December 8, 2017

The Forgiveness of Snow

Three days of deep snow.
A pillowy meringue has met each branch,
has had a dance with the meadow grass,
has floated into each niche, soft and hard,
until today in the final sun
all is brilliant, brilliant.
Walking, there’s an insulated hush
so in the cove, each argument, each compliment,
each complaint and daily praise
is gone now, as if never been.
A forgiveness in this, the starting anew.
Each white pillow says, “I’m forgetting the car crash,”
“I’m forgetting the toppling of trees,”
"I’m forgetting the soldier’s fire, 

and the theft of a village’s water.”
Each six-faceted flake encapsulated
something of those horrors,
something of the looming offensiveness of this life.
“I contain all your sadness,” calls the brilliant snow,
“and don’t I make a pearl?”
Over there by my fence-post is some mother’s wailing grief.
Over there in the white-trimmed fir tree
is the diesel exhaust of a thousand semi trucks.
This morning in the quiet, quiet,
I know what forgiveness is.

Annelinde Metzner         

February 13, 2006
Phoenix Cove

Friday, December 1, 2017


The trail from Sullivan's Island beach

My cousin in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa sends me photos-
     the little town, Cacheu, on the sea,
     quiet, sleepy, on the edge of the world,
     a few boats aligned on worn docks,
     ready for fishing.
But the ghosts there, how they wail!
     The people gathered up, captured,
     the simple bliss of freedom lost forever.
The slaves  were loaded here,
     a human cargo in the hulls of ships
     with all their history, all their futures,
     their families, their gifts, their art.
No matter!  They were loaded into ships,
     packed head-to-foot with utmost efficiency,
     and died in a thousand ways.

Yemaya, Orisha of the sea,
     grieving, grieving for all Her beloveds,
     carried the ships in Her salty waves,
     Her great heart broken.
How Yemaya grieved!  And gave the choice
     to Her beloveds, sick and lost,
     to escape this madness in death with Her,
     Her warm salty waters carrying them away.

The rest, day after suffering day,
     arrived on shore, the other side,
     Sullivan’s Island, the American shore,
     beautiful, green, a place one day
     after generations of suffering and courage
     to remember Africa in language, in family,
     in arts, in food, in music, in Love.
But that day, that time, far from home,
     each one alone, heartsick, in pain,
     and less than human in their captor’s eyes,
trudged up the narrow path,
     at the mercy of the winds,
     to the unknown and horrifying future
     of their lives.

Annelinde Metzner
Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
June 6, 2012

   My poetry chapbook from 2012, "This Most Huge Yes," features this poem inspired by my cousin Keith's residence in the tiny African country of Guinea-Bissau, and my own explorations around Sullivan's Island, SC.  These are the beginning and end points of the "Middle Passage," carrying enslaved peoples from West Africa.  I am honored that this chapbook is available for sale at the Penn Center in St. Helena's Island, South Carolina.

Slave market in Cacheu, Guinea-Bissau

Historical sign on Sullivan's Island near Charleston, SC   

Yemaya by Cuban artist, Celia Gutierrez Cienfuegos

Vicissitudes by Jason de Caires Taylor, an underwater sculpture of enslaved people

My chapbook containing the poem "Passage"

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And So We Sing

Womansong with Debbie Nordeen directing.  Photos by Tamara Gregg.

Our lives go on in endless song
as the wailing laments of Earth grow louder.
We sing and remember the great gifts of women,
obliterating the war shouts of the ones in power.
We sing for our interwoven abilities
which birth a brilliant future,
pulling together in harmony
for each other’s sake.
We sing for the generations
and insist on providing for their rights
to live, to love, to thrive.
Our lives go on in endless song,
in endless trust of each other,
in the divine plan unfolding petal by petal,
deep below the surface, where all music begins,
in the lotus bloom of our energies working together-
and so we sing.

Annelinde Metzner
September 20, 2017

In 1987 I founded the Asheville women's choral group Womansong, and nurtured it for seven years, choosing and arranging music, performing benefits, and creating a nonprofit, the New Start Fund, so that our earnings would help boost local women who were starting life over and needed help.  Our focus has always been women's empowerment, equality, world peace and understanding.
     Now Womansong is 75 singers, and we had a 30th anniversary concert a few weeks ago!   Thanks to Debbie Nordeen and all the many women who have developed Womansong and carried it forward.  The New Start Program has now earned and given away over $160,000.  
     As Debbie retires, her very able assistant director, Althea Gonzalez, will be carrying on as artistic director.
    Thanks to all the many women for our shared creativity!
    I read this poem to introduce the song "How Can I Keep from Singing," at the anniversary concert.

Myself reading at the performance

At rehearsal-  Introducing a song with "And So We Sing"

Althea Gonzalez directing "Coffee"

Dancing and singing to "Well, All Right"

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"Healing" by Autumn Sky Morrison

Release your fears of this world!
Angry men carry guns
and everywhere they shoot,
enraged, they shoot,
carrying away women, children,
everyday people.
Far from feeling remorse,
they shout all the more,
proud, swollen with hate.
“We should all carry guns,” they cry,
meaning them, or men like them,
as if this world had somehow slighted
the muscular, the Caucasian, the loud.

If you are not afraid, you are somehow tired,
hearing of these senseless acts
day after day after day.
Like the bully on the block,
they take all the attention,
voracious for your gaze.

Thousands of years, we have found ways to live
integrated into Earth life, warm, colorful,
artistic, joyfilled, unique to each place.
Each corner of this perfect globe
has its arts, its languages,
its people ingrained in the life of that place,
seeds sprouting in native soil.
Yes, we were born for this!
A daily life of magic, of ingenuity,
creativity, days spent unearthing
the gifts of our soul’s being.

Now I hear, “protect yourself,
shield yourself, be on your guard,”
warnings that seem to make sense
for these crazy times,
a natural response
to the ugly, the unwarranted,
the cruel, the violent, the unjust.

But here I sit beside the quiet waters,
pen in hand,
life still churning within me,
joy bubbling up from nowhere,
and I am on notice:
“I am coming,” She cries,
“and you will see...
Soon I will bring the spring flowers to bloom,
the migrating birds to return to your window.
Regenerate! is My call,
all you who are heavy laden.
Rebirth is our watchword, all we ever are.
Look to the East with me,
the bright burst of sun in the sky,
and call out to Her with your urgent voice,
your ancient joy and pleasure,
with all the pure love you can wield.”

Annelinde Metzner

January 30, 2016

Another mass murder, one of the largest in history, and once again I call on the Goddess, regenerate this world, make us new!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In Dell's Backyard

Live oak with Spanish moss


In Dell’s backyard the live oak grows horizontally,
a highway for air plants and owls,
over beds of fern, lettuce, elkhorn and hibiscus.
In Dell’s backyard each growing thing
is proud, calm, and whole in its place,
well-fed with compost.
Oregano, sour orange, broccoli, peas,
the most enticing scent of lemon blossoms
filling the air.
The kind neighbor, big-hearted,
comes to say that he remembers
planting that oak as a little boy,
bringing it back from the woods.
As if his big-hearted love were contagious,
the wide oak spreads its branches,
Grandmother of all the beings there,
sheltering every one of us with Her love.

Annelinde Metzner

March 13, 2011
Maitland, Florida

  After surviving Hurricane Irma this week, the first thing Dell asked for was this poem.  The beautiful,"horizontal" live oak in her back yard had survived.  A home for so many creatures!   Giving thanks for all of us who have survived and live to love our precious Earth another day.

Oak at Meher Baba center

Grandmother tree at Ifetayo's house

Friday, September 1, 2017


Jewelweed-  the drop of dew is the jewel.

Delicious! the astringent scent
     of wet leaves, wet humus
     on the forest trail
     in this rainy, dark and brooding August weather.
It is late summer, and our Mother
     warns, “Change is coming!”
So good to delight in change.
The virgin’s bower, sweet-scented,
     arrives late to the party, thinking it’s Spring.
Jewelweed, orange and yellow,
     offers her healing profusely, ready to pop.
One leaf of a sycamore releases
     and drops oh-so-slowly,
     its big boat of a leaf
     zigzags slowly over here, over there,
     unhurried in its long fall,
     casually meeting its destiny,
     alighting in the rushing creek below,
     a true boat at last.

Annelinde Metzner

August 29, 2017

Sycamore leaf

Virgin's bower

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Redbud flowers and bee, photo by Ruthie Rosauer

I can’t translate this!  I can’t write it!
It’s spring, my eyes dilate with an ongoing delight,
no end, no end!  Ah me!
Still in April bare grey trees remind me 

that this is no dream,
this everyday, this every new day-
The cherry blossoms, first to bloom,
then scattering in breeze, reminding of snow,
and now today, lush and greener by the hour,
intent on producing sweet red fruit.
Every day, every day, no end!
The hummer’s return, a long, long drink,
fitting for one returned from Guatemala!
Welcome, wee warrioress!  Battle on!
And then, ecoutez!  Welcome the wood thrush,
her deep multilayered melody guiding me back.
Welcome thrush!  Welcome me!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it.
My eyes dilate, hummers buzz, 

and the chickadee not two feet from me,
cocking and cocking the wee head, 

seeming to want my finger for a perch.
A bluebird, shy as Spring’s first new,
and cardinals, and goldfinch!  A riot of color!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it!
Along the banks of the river, red bud, 

misnamed in her purple gown,
paints filagrees in the forest canopy, 

here there and everywhere,
suspended in a perfect ballet, sucking my breath away.
The new dogwood, still clinging to green,
not yet ready for the full openness of total white.
I can’t translate, I can’t write.
Pale yellows and greens creep tenderly up the mountain,
a turkey buzzard gliding on the thermal winds.
A great peace relaxes me all along my spine,
up to my tippy-top, my eyes dilate, 

for the everyday of this, it won’t go away, 
tomorrow and tomorrow, hooray and hooray,
here’s my world come back again, 

this day, this day, 
this very day.

Annelinde Metzner
April 21, 2005

This poem and the above photo appear in "These Trees," a beautiful labor of love by Ruthie Rosauer, who photographed trees all over the United States. There are sections on bark, seeds, fruit and leaves, as well as the whole body of trees, and poems are scattered throughout.  Her work is available at

Dogwood blossoms

Friday, August 18, 2017

Be strong, Mama

Sacred mound

The little hemlock where I left your ashes
     is so new this May!
The wee green nubs have appeared on each branch,
     the ones Elsie loved in her bath.
The tree made of you and me!
In this holy place,
     right by the Sacred Mound,
     the oaken guard, so tall,
     is just beginning to leaf out,
     for here in the High Country, it is Spring.
Around our two trees, I cast small stones,
     offerings for the Mother we so adore.
Onyx, tourmaline, and last, turquoise,
     to nourish our roots with love.
It is busy here, this Memorial Day,
     people passing by,
     as you would have enjoyed.
At my feet, not strawberries ripe and red,
     but the newest blossoms, close to the ground,
     never giving up.
Ahead of me in the field, boneset,
     blessing me in the wind,
     calls, “be strong, Mama, be strong.”

Annelinde Metzner
May 27, 2017

       This poem was written at the place where I left my son's ashes, a day after his birthday this year.

My son Peter

Portrait of Peter by Arline Boyce

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Magic Pouch

Meinrad Craighead, "Enclosed Garden"

I have released my magic pouch.
Fathom this- the miracle sac nestled in my abdomen
where spirits come to Earth and find their destiny.
This wondrous space that grows exponentially
to accommodate a new human being!
I have released my uterus!
Here I am to honor you, oh alchemical gift,
carrier of the species, deliverer of DNA.
Oh place of pure regeneration!
Miracle tubes where fertilization occurs;
Ovaries, hatchery of the round perfection of femaleness,
oak-split egg basket where my mother and grandmother
held me tenderly too;
cervix, precious tunnel that, entranced,
widens a thousand times for human birth.
Oh wine-sac, imbued with love,
Oh world gift, numinous as the stars,
womb of all creation,
meeting place of divine spirit and blessed flesh,
welcome center for all our souls.
With this release I honor you, magic sac,
locus of intense and sexual feeling,
dark cave I have loved and honored all these years.
Woman’s divine chamber
which we must guard from violation,
our own and our sisters’,
which we pray for and protect
throughout our lives.
Sanctuary and cauldron of mind, spirit and flesh.
In letting you go, I hold you up,
I see you now for what you are.
I prostrate myself before you.
Oh womb who has made of me a shaman,
as all women are!
I have offered my body for the incarnation of souls.
If women deem it right and good
for all of us and for ourselves,
we will usher in a life.
Oh magic sac that made me
a conduit of the divine,
I hold you now in my open palm,
acknowledging your perfection,
astonished as, like a butterfly just emerged from its cocoon,
I open my hand and let you go free.

Annelinde Metzner

October 26, 2015

     I'm reposting my poem "The Magic Pouch" which I wrote two years ago for my uterus.  I had just undergone a hysterectomy and I wanted to honor this miraculous organ which is central to and emblematic of womanhood.  The poem is now part of the We'Moon Datebook for 2018, full of women's writings and art. It's on page 99!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Magdala, Tower

Mary Magdalene by Brother Robert Lentz

Magdala, Tower, Queen of my days,

You are not Spirit, not Ether, not Will ‘o the Wisp.

but flesh and blood, a woman like me,

and my teacher.

I see You in burgundy-red, the Blood-Root flower,

the Wake Robin, deep red trillium of the mountains,

the royally curled and woody flower of the Spicebush.

You are so real.

And when You walk on Earth,

the steps of Your beautiful feet are firm.

Priestess, daughter of Isis,

Well-trained in lore and wise,

how I crave the touch of Your oil upon my face.

MM is here!  Mary Magdalene,

here for Her own millennium,

and the voice You bring has no shame in who You are,

who we all are, Woman, strong, deep,

burgundy-red and sexual.

You walk in the power of the Sacred Night,

here to walk wherever You must,

through Love, through Transformation,

unto Union with the Divine.

With Your powerful arms

and Your dark-red hair glinting like amber,

You guide us all through these darkest of days.

Mary Magdalene, You stand grounded

even as we hang in torment,

with Your strong and womanly Priestess arms

ready to carry us through.

Annelinde Metzner
April 17, 2012 

I'm reposting this poem in honor of Mary Magdalene on Her feast day, July 22, 2017.

Mary Magdalene by El Greco

Mary Magdalene by Carlo Dolci

Medieval Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene by Carravaggio

Mary and Jesus stained glass in Scotland

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sacred Swim

Lula swims the French Broad

Here on the banks of our own river,
here in the divine Blue Ridge,  the French Broad,
here where we gathered to worship Her, Oshun,
Mother of the River,
here in our town, and here too
in Nigeria, Osogbo, sacred to Her,
we gathered by the river, to sing, to drum,
to dance our love for Her, for each other,
for the beauty of the day, for the golden honey,
for the rippling waters of our river, and Hers,
we came to be Hers, to live our lives with Her,
at our own river, the French Broad, and for all the rivers,
for the Oshun river, for the Mekong,
for the Mississippi and the Yangtze,
we came to sing, to pray, to call out to Oshun,
and yes!  to swim,  lover of the river,
immersing in Her, feeling Her currents,
as so many of us watched and swam along,
together as one, one with the swimmer,
and Oshun, Her ripples, Her currents,
Her smooth stones, Her coolness and warmth,
one with the birds and the leaves falling,
the offerings we cast upon the water,
one with she who swam all the way,
all the way and back again,
with us, with all of us, loving Her,
loving our Lady, swimming with Her,
swimming for the love of Her.

Annelinde Metzner
Blessings on the River
August 26, 2011

      I found this poem from 6 years ago to commemorate the passing this week of Lula Moon, the swimmer in the above photo, who swam across the wide river and back in honor of our celebration.

       For the eighth year this year, my choir, Sahara Peace Choir, along with the Wild Bodema Drummers, will celebrate Oshun and all rivers in a concert, "BLESSINGS ON THE RIVER," on Saturday August 19th, 1 to 4 PM, at the Friends Meeting House, 137 Center Avenue in Black Mountain.   This will be a benefit for Bounty and Soul, distributing free healthy food and health and cooking classes to people in the Swannanoa Valley.  
      We will cast popcorn on the Swannanoa River, carrying our wishes of health to the fresh waters of the world. 

For more information on the Ifa religion, follow this link to "Soul Seeds" by Rev. Anthony David, a UU minister in Atlanta, Georgia:  Soul Seeds

Yeye Osunyemi and others in prayer by the river

By the River                       

I returned to the riverside park,
the day quiet,  a few dry leaves blowing,
the river glassy, more like a lake really.
The lovely park which is all river, all Her,
Her power and majesty manifest,
just some grass and a sidewalk
plus Her, the River, magnificent.
There in the quiet by the tree of seven stems,
not a shred remained, but the memory of all this,
Oshun holding us gladly, still gazing and singing on the shore.
The voices chiming forth Her name,
the drummers and the drums,
the priestess bowing right to the ground,
the dancers, the smiling families,
the babies held high,
the worshippers offering their golden honey
for Her, for Her they moved to the river’s shore,
for Her they poured out their golden love,
their needs, their pain.
For Her someone doffed her clothes
and swam to the other side!
We gathered there by the river,
in the name of love and no more war.
We called out loud to Oshun,
for joy, for water, for our lives,
and She sings there still, calling back to us,
remembering our names.

Annelinde Metzner
Blessings on the River, Woodfin Riverside Park
September 15, 2010 


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Full Moon on Saint Helena's Island

Branches of the live oak

Utterly silent in the night,
     the long, twisted arm of the live oak
     reaches almost to my window.
I know that, in the day,
     a red-bird builds her nest there
     from bits of Spanish moss,
     chirping at each new piece
     she reclaims from the tangles.
But deep in the night, nothing stirs.
We are far, far from the world.
The sun has set over all the West,
     red and glowing,
     the West with its petty arguments,
     its power plays, its pissy lies,
the West of the patriarchy,
     dying pitifully like the sun.
The West is a vast, big ol’ mistake
     that’s sputtered out like a candle flame.
Silent. Silent.
The big ol’ moon moves imperceptibly.
The tree branches cast fantastic shapes
     across the ground, yellow and grey.
An owl hoots three times.  That’s all.
I gaze out the window,
     listening for the sea.

Annelinde Metzner

April 7, 2017

Marsh on Hunting Island

Grandmother tree at Ifetayo's house

Egret rookery