November 7, 2018

dumkopf uber alles

chim-chimeny, chim-chimeny, chim-chim-cheroo
you elected a fascist, let’s see what he’ll do...
chim-chimeny, chim-chimeny, chim-chim-cheree
he’ll start taking rights---both from you and from me,
there goes our health care, without plans for more,
and the hate groups are laughing as memberships soar,
the white house a circus of buffoons and boors,
a president tweeting of nuclear war,
chim-chimeny, chim-chimeny, chim-chim-cheree
parades feature klansmen and alt-right nazis,
children imprisoned as racists all cheer,
journalists subject to threatening jeers.
chim-chimeny, chim-chimeny, chim-chim-cheroo
his election’s a thing we will all live to rue---
well, at least those who *do* live
to see this mess through..

November 6, 2018

the wood-witch's wisdom

The witch lived in a house in the forest, as witches often do. It was, in fact, a gingerbread house of sorts, or at least a house with "gingerbread" trim that curled and scrolled about its eaves and porch. The house had been built a few lifetimes ago, when the forest was more of a meadow with a belt of woodland around it; in the intervening years, buttercups and daisies had given way to beech, oak, and pine. The house was now invisible from any of the land around it, and too dark from trees to grow more than a small garden, but the patch of sky above it showed the stars beautifully at night.

She lived more or less alone, apart from a three-legged dog and a cat with one eye, and various other creatures like the hedgehog family that came and went from the herb bed and potting shed. It seemed that the witch, being so very whole herself, attracted the broken and spiky and reviled beings of the world. Some came to be healed and fed and loved, and others, usually men, came to poke holes in her as if they couldn't help it. She fed and loved them too, for a time, but often they didn't heal. The persistence of brokenness puzzled her. Men puzzled her on the whole. She regarded them much as she did the black snake that occasionally sunned itself on a stone at the wood's edge: rather beautiful, in their way, and undoubtedly useful in the grand scheme of things, but cold-blooded and sharp of tooth, and potentially dangerous.

It was autumn, and the leaves were a glory and a song upon the trees, setting the eye ablaze and the mind a-dreaming with beauty and change. The witch wandered about gathering wood to see her through the winter, and collecting what the forest offered in its season of bounty: nuts and berries, mushrooms,  bark and pine needles. She went farther afield too, even into the town sometimes, to gather along the hedgerows and fields, and to buy milk and cream (she was desperately fond of butter), and a bit of flour, and tea leaves, and sugar. She bought her clothing there too, from the second-hand shop mostly, as she wasn't especially skilled with a needle. She was good with dyes, though; often what she bought was transformed with plant magic into joyously coloured frocks from the humdrum things they started as. Sometimes, her shopping done, she would even take tea in the little tea-room in the town centre. She would sit with her basket and patchwork bags under the table, looking out at the cobbles and shop fronts, blissfully enjoying her tea and cakes despite the covert stares of other patrons, and occasionally petting the cats that always appeared when she was there. Either she was unaware, or simply didn't care, that her frocks were considered outlandish, and her lack of hat and length of hair unseemly, and that every aspect of her appearance and behaviour and lifestyle mystified the good people of the town.

Whatever they thought of her and her odd ways, people did visit the witch occasionally. Sometimes if they were ill, they would send someone to bring her back to their houses, which put the doctor's nose out of joint entirely. She had helped to deliver not a few babies in the poorer houses, and a couple in the great houses too, when the lady in childbed had taken a dislike to the doctor. She was known to be good with herbal remedies, and good, too, at untangling hearts and minds. Somehow, after an hour spent by her fireside, chatting and taking tea, people felt their lives smooth out a bit, and they went home more comfortable than they came.

In another time or place, they might have shunned the witch, or worse. They might have let mystification run amuck, and come to resent or fear her, and behaved badly. As it was, on the whole they let her be, with a touch of envy and a bit of head-shaking, but nothing harsher. It was easier, and safer, for her as she grew into middle age than it had been when she was young and lithe and a magnet for the eyes of men as she walked. Her lonely house in the wood was a refuge not just for her, but for any in need of a bit of patching up. If she herself was broken, it didn't show. Her body was growing a little creaky, but her soul seemed sound. Whatever sorrows might haunt her at times---as they do all living folk---didn't shake her essential wholeness. She was at home in herself and in the world. At times, when she laid her hands on someone's pain, there was a light on her face that seemed to shine from within. Children saw it, animals felt it, and the injured and grieving warmed themselves by it.

There is a grace that comes with wholeness, or perhaps wholeness is itself a grace. There is grace and wisdom in letting go, and in opening to receive, as trees do, as flowers do. It is beautiful to behold, and draws the broken beings to it, because that is the way the world works in its infinite wisdom and mystery. It is always wise to love what is different and whole unto itself, because it may have a medicine. What is whole contains the seeds of healing for what is broken. This is what the witch knew from looking at the world and living her life in her way, sound as a nut in its glossy shell: she was a part of the whole and thus unbreakable. Whatever happened to her couldn't touch the core of her; cracked or swallowed up, she was still part of the great wholeness. That was the source of any magic she had, and she knew it.

May we all find a witch's grace, soon or late.

midwifing the future

lately there has been much discussion about eco-despair, and the unavoidable degradation of everything, and the urgency of action to fight-...