20 December 2018

Scent of Hope

[accompanying a gift of Braiding Sweetgrass by R.W. Kimmerer]

Chinese lights are twinkling 
and I'm in the gifting crunch.
‘Tis the season when each sunset
starts up shortly after lunch. 
Likely you’ll be groaning:
“Here he goes again,
with incessant rhyming couplets 
and long-overdue Amen!”
But recently I’ve verified,
as one observant reader:
nearly every line of Emily’s 
was in this very meter!
Blithely do I burden
the earth with one more poem
while insisting it be tethered 
to yet another tome.
At first I thought to share 
the book from work I stole:
Beyond Consequences,
Logic, and Control. 
And while providing insights
from which we all may gain,
‘tis to help adoptive parents know 
the trauma-addled brain.
While certainly this book applies 
to clients I am seeing 
it also sheds new light upon 
the core of my own being. 
For each of us sought comforts
when we felt left behind; 
once means of survival 
now our character defined.
In memories of my father 
preoccupied with boats
I see my own obsession 
with all stuff involving notes. 
In this case the trauma 
not in my past but in his;
yet somehow it infuses 
Christmas-present as it is.
I next then sought suggestions
from my favorite avid reader,
with whom I’m blessed to dwell
near madronas and a cedar. 

So taken now with sweetgrass 
she bought some, braided too—
a sacred scent reminder 
of time with Lakota-Sioux 
on a North Dakota landscape,
a liberated nation. 
For them it was existence; 
for us it was vacation. 
The spirits that they honored, 
the lodges where they sweated,
so distant from big-oil execs
with spirits tourniqueted. 
One might ask in earnest, 
after all the broken treaties,
whether these two kinds of human 
truly are of the same species. 
The book addresses arrogance 
towards planet and its creatures— 
a clueless needing to control 
those who should be our teachers—
while also offering lessons 
from the scientific view
(much as did Dad’s novel;
let’s give credit where it’s due).
Might our drinking binge of resources 
be scaled back to intinction?
Could we treat this land indigenously 
to thwart our own extinction? 
What once was labeled progress 
we now must redefine;
harness all the insights learned 
for massive redesign. 
But more than the retooling 
of the power-hungry grid,
we need to build connections 
our economy forbids:
connection to each other, 
connection to the past, 
and connection to a future 
richly scented with sweetgrass.

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