Thursday, March 1

Poetry Thursday: Love the Place You're With

Portent Portent II
Landscape with Red Gesture Snow Angel I


Last night, just moments before the sun went behind the ridge, I stopped along Prickly Pear Creek just a little south of East Helena. There, the creek runs between two ridges and has been used and abused for years, by locals who toss beer cans and garbage in the gulch,and by hunters who discard elk and deer carcasses after taking what meat and trophy parts they want to keep.

I had driven by this creek numerous times, though I hadn't stopped until now. I had Sam with me and we both wanted to get out someplace new. So, this is where we ended up. I had to keep Sam on a leash for this walk - if I hadn't, he would have availed himself of the opportunity to douse with that special fragrance loved by dogs -- "Eau de Carcasse." There were at least 30 carcasses along the stretch of water we walked. Eeeuwww!

I had my camera with me, of course. The light was fading fast and I knew I had to hurry to catch it before nightfall. As I looked around for something that appealed to me -- a scene or detail I might want to shoot, I thought about what many people have told me when they see my photographs of Montana -- that I must live in Paradise, that Montana is so beautiful, pristine, that they want to visit here, to see what (I) see.

Yet here I was, scanning this trashed-out, dumping place for some little detail to photograph. It was worse than a garbage dump. This creek with its sad parking spots, its lovers' lane, its game carcasses strewn in the bushes ... this damaged wetland was a stark testimonial of how little we humans care for the earth.

In anger, I almost turned right around to leave. But something in the water caught my eye. A beaver dam, breached in the middle, icy willow branches bravely stacked against the winter, against the beavers' predators. The little dam was something I needed to see last night - it was a glimmer of optimism, of hope, in this trashed out riverbottom.

I sat for a few minutes, just feet from the large ribcage of an elk. I scolded Sam for being too interested in the bones. He put his head on his paws and watched me shoot -- quickly -- as the light changed and the water shape-shifted.

I wanted to redeem my species somehow, to reach back in time, find the memory of who this little dancing creek had once been, before the cement plant started polluting the waters, before people started using the valley as an unofficial dump and drinking place ... I wanted to catch the narrow slice of sky reflected in Prickly Pear Creek. I wanted to remember, with my mind's eye and my camera, the way graceful branches danced with the current.

Night Swimmers for Bruce Grant

I tossed a stone just upstream of the beaver dam. I clicked and clicked the camera shutter until I could see only the beauty of water, of evening, of a beaver's industry and natural design ...

until I could see
only the deep
blue sky and black
branches and golden
light swimming in
blue night

This is how to see the place
where you belong.
This is how to love
the places you spend your days
and nights.
Look under the surface
love the beauty you find there
no matter where you are.


Singing Land

Your burning skies are never-ending
Across your red brush plains
Out where the dingo still is king and eternity remains
There between the old and ancient there's an oasis bright
Your gentle children who have gone are close to me tonight

In your singing land, in your singing land
Shine on, oh shine on over me

There's a feeling still and eerie, there's a feeling strong
The path humanity has come and the path that he has gone
Me I am I am just passing three score years and ten
And I'm just a stranger who may never come this way again

In your singing land, in your singing land
Shine on, oh shine on over me

Under the spell of caterpillar dreaming
New life shapes its form
Along the river's naked banks
That are straining for the storm
Oh sacred rock, in thunder ocean
The tree of man grows clear
The woodlarks sing, the brolgas dance and
Dawn is slipping near
-- song by Dougie MacLean

I have put together an audio/visual experience for you in this little slideshow with Dougie Maclean's song (above) To listen and watch the slideshow, click the arrow in the center of the screen below:

Posted for Poetry Thursday's totally optional prompt for this week, which I am totally ignoring. As usual. ;-D or check out the other poetry posts for this week by clicking this button:

I posted the first bunch of photos in this set, Love the Place You're with, last winter ... this winter I went back to the same place to see if I had a similar response to the place and I did. It has imprinted itself in me. It has become a numinous thing for me. It has become the kind of place that shows up in my dreams.


Rethabile said...

This line, "Look under the surface," talks to me both poetically and spiritually. Wonderful lines.

maureen said...

thank you for the feedback, Rethabile. I also admire your poetry -- thanks for commenting or I might not have discovered your site.

jillypoet said...

I just loved your video. The lines of the music were so apt for your photos, and your titles of each photo were like a list poem. Your intro, too, was heartfelt, insightful, and very poetic. There is a place near me that has a special hold on me, much like your spot. In fact, we call it, simply, "the spot." Luckily, it is protected land. It is so awe inspiring, words fail me. You have made me determined to head out with my camera and notebook to try again to capture "it."

maureen said...

Jill, I hope I see the photos you take of your spot ... Maybe you'll remember to come back and leave me a note telling me you're posting them? if you remember .... anyway I'm glad I could inspire you. And thanks for noticing that about the titles -- i hadn't thought of them as a poem before, but it kindof reads that way. I used a quick-and-easy slideshow builder that didn't allow me to tweak the photo titles ... it was either yes, have titles or no titles at all. i was disappointed the titles were so large in comparison with the slides. oh well.

anyway thanks for your comments. I appreciate it.

Skuz said...

wow, that's a great post. i know just how you feel, thanks to some eloquent work.
BTW, your new layout is looking real sharp.
you can get rid of the border around your header image if you want it to blend better, just look in the header section of the style sheet.
I like the sidebar on the left too.

maureen said...

thanks, Gabe --- I need to tweak my site alot more I think it's too wide for some people's browsers or monitors (don't know which) and you're right -- sidebar on the left is a good idea. It's where everybody looks for navigation and why row against the river for something that simple? I need to switch the sidebar on the HWWG blog to the left side. ...

we're gonna have to have another chat someday when we both have time to be on at the same time, because I need some more help from you on the blogs. ;-)

Poetry said...

Feather brained clouds off on rain's errand.

Insects mating furiously in flight--They call them love bugs.

Cleaving to one another as oblivion approaches.

Working their wings in the morning breeze.