Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Bear Hiding Salmon

Below me,
the Canadian Rockies
are eclipsed in snow,
melting to cloud.

A land of stories
that once belonged
to the speakers of a tongue
fallen silent now,
or crooked from misuse -

Centuries of abuse
are framed in museum glass,
Sacred names are spilled
where ancestors used to dance;

Where mountains rise to keep the peace
and trees root down to Salmon's Creek
Bear and Wolf howl with impatience
watching, for moon cycles,
waiting, at Raven's End,
for the world to make sense.

I watched Princess Mononoke yesterday. I have a new heroine! (Wolf Girl! Get it?!) Japanese anime doesn't come better than Hayao Miyazaki. Set in the Muromachi period of Japan, the film centres around supernatural forest spirits and animals battling against humans in timeless cyclic fashion. I think about the eco-warriors of today fighting to protect our planet, and I think about my time in Vancouver, when I felt as though I were walking among ancient tree and animal spirits. This is my poem of that time.

12 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A beautiful poem, Shaista. If you ever get over here again, you must let me take you to the west side of Vancouver Island, to walk through old growth forests where the tree trunks are gi-normous. Definitely more spiritual than any cathedral and full of the spirits from ancient times. When I lived on the beach, there was a cave that long ago was the site of a war. I cant remember if it was warring tribes, or a battle between Europeans and First Nations. But one could feel the darkness in the cave, where it was said a lot of blood was spilt. Put Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park on your Bucket List. It is truly spectacular. Cant believe I got to live there for ten years. It was glorious. Your beautiful poem took me right back there.

Shaista said...

It's a date!! I have three wonderful women to visit in/near Vancouver now.. yourself, Jeanne-Ming and Jo. Oh, and my granny obviously :)

Cloudia said...

you channeled the past!





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erin said...

shaista, sometimes i think we are too beyond sense. i think it will take a cataclysm to startle us from this apathy and greedy ignorance. your poem shows us the past. with hope i look to the future like a mirror through these words. reduced perhaps we can return as the snow turns to water and returns to the soil and so on and on like that.

xo
erin

Andrew said...

Lovely writing, as I have come to expect from you Shaista.

On the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is where I live now, so your first line caught my attention immediately.

I feel very fortunate to live in Canada. A tour of the UK is on my bucket list.

Lydia said...

Your "poem of that time" is without a doubt the most beautiful tribute to the native peoples of N. America that I have read. It shows that you really felt the spirit(s) of the place. Vancouver is such a beautiful city. I spent one vacation driving with my mother from Oregon, to Sandpoint, Idaho, to Calgary, then Banff (heavenly Banff) and across Canada over to Vancouver. There was not one day that my eyes did not fill with tears for the beauty and majesty I saw.

I love your poem!

dustus said...

Excellent poem that brings to life the past, even what is not captured in the museum glass in terms of mistreatment.

Brian Miller said...

very nice...thanks for the bit of enlightenment...nicely spun in the verse...will have to check out that movie

Jeanne-ming said...

Beautiful poem and sounds like my back woods.
Come on.....waiting for you.

Renee said...

You have a wonderful way with words and your poem expresses so much of a people still struggling to be remembered and the way they lived.

Tracie Skarbo said...

Below me,
the Canadian Rockies
are eclipsed in snow,
melting to cloud.

Excellent stanza... love the image it brings to minds eye!

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