Saturday, January 21, 2023

Tell a Woman


Sahara Peace Choir singing for Women's March,Asheville NC 2018

Tell a woman that, deep inside,
deep in her heart, where no one can see,
she holds the flame that lights the world.
Tell a woman that no one can ever extinguish that flame.
Not anyone,  be he bigger than her, stronger than her, 

faster than her,
angrier than her, drunker than her, 

more convinced he is right.
This flame is our secret, all women’s.  We are born with it.
With this flame, within our hearts, 

we work two jobs while raising three kids.
And we give them piano lessons.
With this flame, we cross oceans
so our children can grow up strong without stigma.
With this flame, we nurse our elders, 

and our young ones too,
often at the same time, keeping an eye on bill payments,
scrounging for food and rent.
Tell a woman she has a huge bright flame 

ready to flare up in her heart,
and she’s not alone.   We all have one,
we who walk tall, and we who are under the thumb,
we who speak here now, and we who have been silenced,
we all share this flame, it’s an eternal flame,
it’s hot, and it’s brilliant, and it never goes away.
Tell a woman, this is our birthright, this is who we are,
we, the women, the people of the womb,
who carry the world, who yearn for love and honor,
who, somewhere deep inside, will never be denied, 

will never give in.
Tell a woman, this is who we are, 

all of us aflame, all of us women,
all of us carrying that precious fire
that guides our days, 

that reminds us of what this life really means,
that shows us its light and tells us how to move,
how to be, how to turn, how to love each day.
Tell a woman, she has a pure flame deep in her heart
that can never be extinguished, that cannot be pushed under,
that can never be broken, that does not bleed away,
that cannot be raped or beaten down,
that can only rise higher, that flares up within us,
and with each step brightens, and lights our way,
brighter and brighter, as we see our flames
more clearly, more loudly, more assuredly, more proudly,
all of us gazing at that brand new day,
not much longer now, just on the horizon,
when we look at a woman and know,
with her light, she leads the way.

Annelinde Metzner

January 23, 2013

Audience at "Rise Up Asheville," January 2013

 Girl Scouts at Black Mountain march

Young high school women who organized the Asheville march!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Winter Moon


Trees bare at the edge of the ridge,
scraggly, December, full of secrets.
Cold Moon rises, barely there among branches.
She shocks me!
“Come out of your house!,” She challenges me.
“Breathe my bare cold.
Clean and direct I’ll fill your lungs.
Come out of your comfortable house.
I want you now!”
With that slap from the big Cold Moon
I’m made to remember.
The white pull of Her glow tugs hard
at some treasure I’ve been hiding.
Gazing into the white-glazed night forest
I pause for the Moon to paint me, too,
with cool Winter’s light.
For Her, I am what I am, nothing more.
The days go and go and go,
bright and noisy as ever,
but within me, as in dreams,
She demands my attention,
tripping me up,
no matter how well I hide.

Annelinde Metzner
December 21, 1995

My home in Phoenix Cove where this poem was written

Monday, January 9, 2023

Run toward your creative life


Cabin window at Hawkscry

Run toward your creative life with all your might
even when, and even because, tears stain the very surface,
the fiber of your creative being.

Isn’t this your truest self?
Isn’t this a pristine beach,
more wild than winter, more vast?

Doesn’t the joy breath of your inner life
smell fresher than new-washed cottons hung in the air?

When the long day finally ends,
and I come close to the inner self,
I pull back the veil.

Annelinde Metzner      

June 2006

Lagoon at the Baba Center

Pine cones

Piano at Wildacres

Sand dune at Ocracoke

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Coming Back Christmas


my family at the Catskill farm, 1957

One must leave one’s mountains
one must descend early in the day
through ice and snow, fog banks,
ripped up trees and branches helter-skelter,
one must leave one’s silent warm cabin on Christmas
and descend through the trees
down the long grade in fog, way down.
One must leave one’s silent cabin 

full of fire, full of sadness,
silent, remembering,
on Christmas one must come to family,
come down through the trees 

while smoke curls up through the woods,
come down to help old Tante by her stove,
down to a place with children, with messes,
with pots and pans helter-skelter in Tante’s kitchen,
where there will be singing and jigs playing,
“Ihr Kinderlein kommet” and the Crist-kindl,
chocolates in tree branches and sooty fingers,
the old stove that pops and moans,
family groaning around the table,
with resentments, accomplishments, aches and pains,
medicines and red wine and forgotten addresses,
all of us elbow-to-elbow, 

hunters and hairdressers,
poets and plumbers,
day-to-day survivors making do.
One must come in a hurry on Christmas,
come gladly to the loud rooms of one’s family,
full of judgments and kind advice,
full of wariness and unspoken joys.
One must remember to leave one’s quiet warm cabin 

full of sadness
and come down each Christmas, be pulled magnetic
to let one’s heart warm again unbidden,
with no plan, just you, and nothing else.

Annelinde Metzner

December 25, 2005

My son Peter around 1995

My aunt Elsie at age 100

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Just Friday


Just Friday                                                                  

(a spontaneous poem from the beach)

It’s forty-five degrees, and the water feels even colder,
But I splash in the foam like Aphrodite, 

even though I’m almost sixty.
A kite is suspended in the sky,
so much wind that no one at all is holding the string,
and it stays suspended for hours,
and the kite is NOT SHOPPING.
A child builds palmetto fronds into an altar in the sand,
a  child NOT SHOPPING.
A boy out in the ocean paddles by on some board,
standing straight up in the ocean, 

looking for all the world like Jesus,
and certainly Jesus would not be shopping.
Two dogs whirl around each other,
joy sparking off of them like the flash of Venus in the night,
like the Pleiades in the dark moon night,
and today is just Friday, and no one is shopping.

Annelinde Metzner
Isles of Palms, South Carolina

November 25, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2022

The Appalachian Cailleach Speaks


Grandmother puppet by Lisa Sturz from "The Abundance of Mary" 2006 

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

The Cailleach is a Celtic Ancestor-Goddess, a Divine Hag, a Crone who controls the winter winds in the far reaches of remote places. Living in the still-wild mountains of Western North Carolina, I’ve found it is easy to conjure up the Cailleach rising up through a rhododendron “hell.” She certainly took my breath away, and captured my consciousness, when I wrote this poem in 1995. Some years later, Lisa Sturz of the Red Herring Puppets created for me the eight-foot tall, wearable Grandmother puppet you see here. She has appeared in a number of my theater productions to the Goddess, while the poem was being dramatically read, with improvised music on the psaltery. Grandmother is happy to be coming out of my basement once more, for the Samhain service at our Unitarian church here in Black Mountain.

Grandmother out and about for our October 30th service at the UUCSV.

Rhododendron thicket

Friday, October 21, 2022

Rock River



Once again, my pilgrimage
North to my ancient Grandmother,
that jagged mountain so old
Her power infuses everything.
But this is October, and the people are here,
everywhere, joyously gobbling up
the brilliant Autumn colors with their eyes.
I cannot even get near!
And then the thought, to a way much lower,
closer to Her deep roots,
closer to She who leads us so deep into the Earth.
As I venture around, unknowing,
She reveals this much to me:
for Her, the giant boulders
are Her toys, Her playthings.
Monumental stones are here,
which She has tossed gaily in a fit of joy.
My son once said, "Mom, a Rock River."
Here She has floated the giant stones
all in a tumble down Her beautiful sides.
Streams run with music as they splash among the rocks.
All of this Her terrain, Her birthplace, Her legacy!
Here at the very lowest, She has left us a trace,
a history of Her energy and might,
many-ton boulders strewn across the mountain
where She tossed them for us to see.

Annelinde Metzner

October 19, 2022



A Rock River











Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Autumn Fullness




The abundance of Autumn.
Apples ripening, apples of Avalon,
every grain at its fullest,
amaranth, oats and wheat.
Milkweed pods, ready for Monarchs,
about to burst open and float away.
Goldenrod flowers bend on their stalks.
Blackberries, raspberries for the bear’s delight.
There is no coolness yet, no frost,
but still, we are storing away,
all living beings, storing away,
aware at some level of the icy cold to come.
Autumn! Why have I not seen your fullness,
your round abundance, your gifts?
Seed after seed on the underside of ferns.
Burrs clinging to our clothes.
Dragonflies dip and soar across the field,
bees and hummingbirds gorging.
Oh, round fullness of Autumn!
My mouth opens:  feed me. 

Annelinde Metzner, 9/1/2015

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Long Haul


“I think of the long haul”
says the sparkling jewelweed outside my window,
curling her brilliant orange flowers
into tension-sprung seeds, so sensitive to passing touch.
“Do you feel it on the breeze?”
I feel it on the breeze, a quiet zephyr,
luxuriating across the wide meadow,
heralding icy months not far away.
“We’re in this for the long haul,’
say the hummingbirds, quite relaxed,
zipping from blossom to blossom,
storing up energy to fly,
to fly! across the Gulf to Mexico.
“Think of the long haul,
the wide expanse of time,”
says the barn owl, spotting a wee mouse.
“It’s our time, and guess what?
It’s your time too.”
Late at night, heat lightning explodes,
incandescent over the horizon, without a sound,
reminding us to paint our lives long and wide.
It’s time, it’s our time,
the long haul, long and wide,
you and I.

Annelinde Metzner

Catskill Farm
September 4, 2015

Milkweed for the monarch butterflies

Yarrow and strawberry


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The Procession of the Geese


Once again I'm at my parents' grave,
    a joyous journey, not too far-
    to bring bright Autumn flowers.
I settle in on my camp chair,
    relishing the quiet,
    that timelessness we receive so hungrily
    when our ancestors are near.
Maple leaves rustle in the wind.
And then-
Gazing across the mowed grass,
    they come into my awareness.
Almost silent,
    all in a row, eyes on the ground,
    pecking here and there for a worm-
The Procession of the Geese!
Oblivious to me, oblivious to the graves,
    uncaring of the names or the dates,
    in a long parade they step,
    with the occasional honk,
    intent on finding food.
"Here is some life for you!" they call,
    webbed feet stepping purposefully
    through the grass.
"Regenerate, and keep going!"
All sixty of them call to me,
    in the voice of Life itself.

Annelinde Metzner

September 28, 2022

Friday, September 23, 2022

In September

In September the forest, green as ever,
is like a lover crooking her finger one last time.
She sways, she is still soft and green,
her Earth is still warm...
And somewhere unseen, on the other side,      

is the gray gargoyle Winter, 
the stone gollum with a funny grin,
skipping rocks on the water, biding her time.

She comes up to me in the morning and
brushes a bony finger against my chin,
saying “feel this- remember me?”
The hairs stand up on my chin, and
I gasp at her unstoppable impertinence.
I shake her off and turn away, pretending she’s not there.
Up on the hillside, the maples and birch
sway, supple, green as ever,
singing their sweet seductive siren song of Summer.
Behind a slab of granite, Winter
points her bony stone finger
and laughs.

Annelinde Metzner

September 6, 2009


Friday, August 19, 2022

For Layne


For Layne     

Taka, taka Doom, taka Doom!
The woman of ancient times throws her head back,
transported by her drum.
Doom taka Doom!
“Rhythm shapes matter,” the scientists say.
Priestesses already knew!
Cybele holds her drum and smiles.
Play, Layne, Play!
Create the world anew each day!
The drummer women of old
never relinquished their power
to the conquering barbaric hoards,
power amassed as millennia of music.
Play on, Layne, play on!
Doom taka Doom, taka Doom!
Watch us now, and leave us, Layne,
with this one great legacy,
the ritual rhythm of the drum.
As the Goddesses of old revive and renew,
so do you, so do you!

Annelinde Metzner

October 31, 2013

Layne Redmond (1952 to 2013) was a great teacher of the frame drum, and author of “When the Drummers Were Women, A Spiritual History of Rhythm.”   She passed through the veil in 2013 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Layne Redmond with her tambourine

Layne with frame drum

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Earthen Cloak




Each afternoon, the storms come in,
    first the mysterious rumble from far away,
    then the closer crash,
    until each day ends in a swirl of thunder, mist and rain.
The Appalachian forest, the rain forest,
    loves this daily soaking, Her element.
Mushrooms are abundant,
    spiderwebs glisten with raindrop jewels.
I am blessed with a Quaker friend,
    guardian of the forest,
    who patiently and delightedly walks me
    uphill in the wet leaf mulch,
    among the trees,
    from grave to grave.
These are the burial sites of the self-determined few,
    the ones who find the right bush, the right tree,
    taking time to warm to the chosen spot
    years before they go.
How life continues here,
    how it goes on!
A potter's grave, trimmed with pot-lids of all colors.
A painter's grave, happy to rest in beauty for all time.
A writer's grave, poems etched in the marker stone.
I sit at the stone fire circle
    as the sunbeams shine through the leaves.
A sacred ground, a blessed place,
    made of you and me,
    made of all of us. 


Annelinde Metzner

August 12, 2022




Thursday, July 7, 2022

Community Garden


Community garden in Black Mountain NC

Community garden      

Do you love your little patch of Earth?
Does She feel you kiss her warm brown skin as you step?
Every day, do you thank Her for how she feeds you?
Go to the garden, and sink your fingers into Her living soil,
her rich humus full of life, and giver of life.
Plant some plants, plant some seeds!
What is a seed, what is it for your life?
Are there seeds, small sprinkles and dark, firm pods
planted in you, in your mind, in your heart?
Go to the garden, plant and share!
Watch each day for the new surprises She has in store.
Greens and all colors, and all for you to eat!
Grow just enough for yourself, your family,
and give some away.
Give some away until the joy of Her, of our Mother Earth
drips from your fingers like the juice of new grapes,
‘til the joy of Her sparkles in your eyes.
Give this away too, so whomever you meet
feels that energy, the energy of Her,
of Life, of resurgence and rebirth,
of all that returns when we bend just a little,
and plant.

Annelinde Metzner

Community Garden
May 23, 2013


Hoop garden

Herbs at the community garden

Gardeners hard at work

Kale in July of 2022