Tree branches, blue sky
reflected in melting ice —
webs of connection,
forest’s neurons awake.
Branches stretching out
over cold morning waves
sunlight glints on stones.
Bluebells in spring,
spring into life,
forest wakes in mute beauty.
Reeds stand sentinel,
green and straight against a wavy background —
one moment in a changing world.
Cormorant on a stump,
its shadowy image
echoed in still water —
listening, watching, waiting for a sign.
by a fallen fence — sweet colour
on this spring morning.
Tilting its delicate head
the morning glory listens
to the world’s song . . . and silence.
this quiet forest clearing —
a splash of sunlight.
Sparkling light in the darkness
shower of stars
down to earth.
Dewdrops on a leaf,
red, yellow, dark purple
expanded moments, radiant.
Profusion of golden leaves
reflections in the stream —
The world is a narrow bridge
we need to cross.
(Note: italicized words from Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav)
The saint of the lake sits high in a sequoia
that grows from an ait kissed by mild waves.
Alone yet expansive, the art of silence
presses the holy woman’s heart between two ferns,
releasing notes of dried clover, cornflower, and marigold.
Rain begins and the saint stirs, prays and praises
the blesséd cover of a thick branch overhead,
its tough bark more waterproof than a nimbus.
Though distance obscures the hermit’s face,
one brown palm is visible against the green.
Cupping the rainfall has awakened her birthing sense,
and she is listening to the tadpoles’ legs emerging,
the fox lining her den with leaves for the coming kits,
and the egg-teeth of baby finches tapping their shells into openness,
their long embryonic wait almost at an end.
When the creased cup of the saint’s hand overflows,
she empties its reservoir with a dancing turn of the wrist.
Backing closer to the tree’s broad column,
she gathers heels into the thighs’ shelter
and circles warm knees with her arms.
Breathing into the curled nest of a compassionate self,
she sleeps in Love, heartbeats lapping in sync
with the lake’s gentle rhymes deep below.
Just behind Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, a steep switchback trail leads me to the west bank of Highland Creek, where tall grasses sway beside a sandy bank with cheerful stones below. As I continue along the narrow path beside the bank, I stop to photograph an elegant monarch butterfly before moving into deeper tree cover beyond.
I soon come to a tributary of the stream that is flowing much more slowly. Thanks to its shallowness, I can cross by hopping on the most stable stones. As I pause on the series of stepping-stones to survey the next viable perch, I experience moments of flowing water, such as a chartreuse leaf bathing in the stillness.
Although sunlight struggles to filter through the thick canopy, the very steep bank offers a vision of hopefulness in grasses that are beginning their rooted stance, a scrap of sky above, and more tree leaves arching over the negative space. I have the sense of inhabiting a cut-out furrow or deep groove in an earthy canyon, transforming me into a creature who has been given the option of crawling up and out from a den.
And I do just that, scrambling up the bank with the steadying aid of roots and branches for balance. I emerge onto the manicured openness of Scarborough Golf Club, owner of the footbridge I had glimpsed in a clearing on a previous walk. After I observe a few treasures of the golf course, including a short boardwalk in a marshy area, a group of four irises, and an apiary, I return to the creek’s edge. Then I retrace my steps to the departure point of my hike on this lambent June afternoon.
Thank you, afternoon roses! When I was working in the front garden under gray skies, the roses only looked flat red, but when I took some photos after finishing the task, the sun revealed combinations of red, orange, and yellow.
Your anguish is a force, a separate soul that cries out for solace and remedy. Although I have some medicine for you, I cannot restore the beloved person who abandoned you without warning. Into this void, my voice may drop like a stone.
It hurts to see you cry, face in your hands, unable to sleep, eat, or even feel real. Dizzy from the shock of desertion, each second refuses to pass, remains incomplete. Your injured heart has lost its rhythm and your movements seem leaden, as if masses of melted tar are dragging your arms down every time you lift a glass.
While your body slows to glacial time, brain activity accelerates to epidemic levels as you struggle to comprehend this alien reality that cannot be happening but is happening anyway. Like a never-ending game of tether ball, your thoughts spin faster and faster into smaller and tighter circles, shackled by panic to the iron fact of loss.
If I had the power to heal you, I would gather the softest banana leaves in creation and soak them thoroughly in shea butter. Then I’d wrap them round your head to cool and cradle your brain, drawing out the poison of self-punishing thoughts, soothing the pain, and smoothing the wrinkled loops of endless tormenting questions.
For your heart-wounds, I offer a poultice composed of clay, feathers, and ferns to press against your chest as if in prayer. The heart-poultice cannot mend the cracks, but it honors them with love and witnesses the agony of brokenness.
And for your whole body, a pool has been sunk into the cursèd room that most haunts you with memories. The pool is not very wide — the width of three ordinary bathtubs — but it is fathoms deep. The sides and bottom of the pool are made of peat-black marble, turning the water so dark that it gathers you into oblivion. When you sink into this personal well, the only things you experience are the present sensations of cool healing water, your steady breath, and the kind red beating of your heart.
(To purchase an ebook version of Visualizations for Heartbreak in its entirety for $10, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org)