What We Need to Talk About, Darling

The land I live on was an island that crashed into a continent. It buckled and smashed and was pushed up into the air by the collision.


The old seabeds of its foreshore we dragged under the ground, pressurized, and their water, turned to steam, turned them to lava, and they rose and splashed over top of the ruins.




These landscapes were broken by glaciers, which lie now in long inland freshwater fjords in beds that sink far below the surface of the offshore seas.


There are many of these islands.


They stretch from Oregon to Alaska, all broken up…

P2100867 …, all welded together with old volcanoes from their deep stone seabeds.P2100825

Many are stilled rimmed by water. Many are still seabeds.


Many still have tide pools.


Many are still given to shoreline grasses…




… even though the skies, torn by newer uplifted islands to the west, are the reverse of ocean air.


We are still at sea. Storm still drains off of the rock.


Generation after generation …


… the creatures of the water have adapted to living in the air and making a living from the cracks in stone …


… that catch the sea the mountains, the old islands, strip from the sky and give back to them. Even a stone can be a tide pool in this ocean.


Our birds are sea eagles …


… that come from India.


But so do many of us. My ancestors did, long after the ice melted here.  We are travelling, among islands.

starlings We are gathering and giving away.P2100521 We are falling and rising up.P2060603

As humans, it is our gift to see all these things as one. All creatures have this gift. It is called being present.


Humans have developed a science that takes apart this natural ability to see, in order to create stories of causality. It is a positive and powerful tool, as are one of its products, photographs such as these.


This is not the human faculty, this science. The human faculty is to see all these images as one, as physical things in the world, and simultaneously as spiritual forces and as forces of energy deep in time, and to experience in something as simple as a breath of air or the movement of an arm, or a moment that humans call beautiful …


… because it too is profoundly present, which is to say, all its energies are combined at once. Awareness is a word, not a human faculty. The faculty belongs to the earth. The word is us. This is awareness:


The photograph is the word.


Humility is the gesture. Again, it is a faculty of the world, not of humans themselves.


We are given this gift of putting things together. Don’t accept it that science must take them apart.


Our bodies know more than that. Of course they do, they are of the earth.


And she is of us.


This is a different thing altogether:


The people who build a golf course like that, on a rich, living grassland, are not of this earth. This is their habitat.


They are now dreaming of going to Mars. They are practicing.


They are building their space ships.


In many ways, they have already left.


They are almost wordless now.

P2000484 They have become their words.P2000542 When someone becomes a word, and writes it in the world of manifested words …P2000506

… they erase it.


The world is a weed to them.  The people of the world are weeds to them.


They are shadows.



They are grand romantic shadows, physical spirits who use their bodies as puppets, cars, and other machinery of transportation and communication.


Their ancestors were trees…


…  living on islands on the sea.


These islands are still here.


We are still here.


Our bodies, which are of this earth are still here.


We need to speak of this.


7 replies »

  1. Harold, your last few blog entries have reminded me of Jeremy Narby.
    Here he is speaking at the 13th annual International Bioethics Forum: 3.8 Billion Years of Wisdom, Exploring the Genius of Nature, held last year.
    He wrote The Cosmic Serpent and Intelligence In Nature.
    Good overview of where he’s coming from, the work he’s been engaged in for the past 30 years and the direction his work is leading him and others working in the field. I think he’s got a good sense of humour and he’s a name dropper ha-ha, so lots to follow up on.

    Does anyone else see in the photo of the transformer shadow a twisted or warped version of a Kachina? Maybe it’s just me being nutty.


  2. Thanks, Fran, for all of your encouraging comments of late. I really appreciate it. It helps keep me connected. Wandering out in the grass as I do is sometimes pretty solitary, so it’s great to have you along as a companion. I love your observation about the Kachina. I knew I was responding to something in it… that’s it! Narby is great. “You didn’t talk to your lawn [in the 60s], you mowed it!” Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Harold. I really enjoy visiting you web space. There’s clarity and inspiration here.  Here’s hoping I don’t muddy it up with my two cents.

    I like what Narby says about botanists and other scientists relying on metaphor to communicate what they are learning about plants. It’s another example of the “braiding” you talk about. Are we at the cusp of the development of a new language or the revival and reworking of an ancient language with which we can talk about life? Talk about life lol.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the Kachina. It says, to me, something about the spirit of the Earth expressing itself thru whatever means are available and something about an alien or foreign intelligence fooling around with energies they know very little about.  Cheers!


  4. Hi, Fran, well, you’ve found my steampunk site, too! Have you found my site? I’m exploring the earth-language roots of English. I find it pretty exciting. I will diverge from Narby on the issue of metaphor. I don’t believe in it, but that’s only because I think metaphor is a abstract observation of something that is otherwise real. I believe in the real correspondences. Which is why I’m exploring the language.I love your comment about the spirit of the earth finding the possible means and working through them. That’s inspiring and feels very true. There’s such a story about how I got myself into this space I’m in now, with North American civilization a past artifact for me, and indigenous cultures very present. I guess I should be telling it. Your interest makes me think someone might like to hear. That’s very grand. Cheers, Harold


    • I was working to describe the physical processes of this land, and then, as a second step, to integrate them into a discussion of scientific knowledge and how it falls short of describing the physical experience of living in such a dynamic landscape. The poetry was meant to be a way to get at that without limiting the discussion with a lot of words. Yes, it’s meant to be deeper than a poem, in respect for the earth here and its strength.


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