The Wendigo's Way
I wrote the poem “The Wendigo’s Way” after reading Robin Wall Kemmerer’s Book Braiding Sweetgrass, but the poem doesn’t do justice to her book. Braiding Sweetgrass is an exploration of right and wrong relationships to the natural world. She ends with a story of how to defeat the Wendigo, but also a warning. Who are you trying to defeat?
The Wendigo’s Way The Wendigo is born in the Hunger Moon a cautionary tale of hard times and short supplies. Born of the time when frost paints the ground, he sees only shortage: seeks to seize what he wants from others. More than that, he is a cannibal. He glowers across a clearing and gives chase as you dash away. Forget your dignity. Run! Only the bravest soul hunts Wendigo. No chain can hold him, his hair a static electric shock. No fawn will gambol in his woods. Wendigo ate his own lips in lust for human flesh, but he was once a man. Remember that when you wish for just a little more. The poems "The Wendigo's Way" and "Full Speed Ahead" appeared in my illustrated booklet Healing and Conflict. A reccitation of parts of the poem follows.
Full Speed Ahead
Published in my booklet, Healing, and Conflict
I wonder how there came to be
a plastic island in the sea.
No challenge to avoid a crash.
Cleave right through; our course is brash.
Beware if barnacles adorn your boat.
They’ll snag each plastic piece afloat.
Cigarette lighters float in the wrack
thick as bird lice on a heron’s back.
Old bleach bottle and plastic bag
Sent to the landfill and covered with slag.
The plastics escape with torrential rain.
Go down the river like soap down the drain.
Birds and turtles feed on this mess.
Dead in a week would be my guess.
So keep your plastic safe at home.
Don’t send it out to sea to roam.
In the smoky gold of mountain mist
the mellow autumn sun illuminates
hickories gone to gold and
the blue and gold of asters.
Water percolates to surrounding layers
but the lichens grow on rock,
desiccate in dry weather.
They appear to be dead; wait for rain.
Like resurrection fern,
they appear to come back to life.
Feeling no shame, they binge on water.
They regain fleshy texture;
become the quintessence of life.
They survive the nibbling deer,
the hot dry summer.
The rocks appear to be forever,
but lichen brings them down.
Acids from lichen break up the rock.
Weather breaks down the rocks.
Lichens are survivors.
If you want to change the world,
be like lichen; be a survivor.
"Rock" was inspired by a passage in David Haskell's book, The Forest Unseen.