If you stand at the edge of the forest
And stare into iit
Every tree at the edge will blow a little extra oxygen toward you…
From “Ancient Language” by Hannah Stevenson, which inspired the following poem.
A significant part of the Earth Jam 2021 Opening Ceremony was a deep dive into the four elements: Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. We did this by resting in four poems — one for each element. After the reading of each element-specific poem the participants were invited to notice personal impressions, memories or experiences associated with that element. They were invited to share a short sample of those in the chat.
As these offerings were read — there was an energy, a power which comes from naming the truth of what we are experiencing as we find ourselves in a world we don’t recognize — marked by heat, fire, vulnerability and uncertainty. And also, paradoxically, at the same time, a world we know and love, full of sustaining beauty of immeasurable kinds.
Tonya Lailey took the phrases and descriptions that were shared and created four “cento” (latin for “patchwork” or “collage”) poems.
Through these poems we have gathered some of the mystery, beauty, joy, fear and grief that permeates our current experience of Earth, Air, Water and Fire.
Air in Us wind in my hair, standing, I am nowhere, I am being everywhere clear and fresh, then smokey and suffocating air dense with ash, blue skies & fresh air (a relief) crisp mountain air eerie orange skies hot air with smoke lying among the trees. A sky dome of incandescent orange turning murky red and then black. How hard to breathe. The air with tension carried the ashes of thousands of trees, falling around us. Air: sorrow, sorrow: life vaporized the quiet despair of days upon days of smoke filled skies then the giddy relief of blue - blessed blue when cool air arrived I wanted to drink it a sudden rush of cold wind, whipping tablecloths, sending women for blankets to wrap around shoulders overnight the air thickens inside the tent I share with four other people breathing, smoke heavy through the screen deep breaths as the morning sun rises sadness, loss and despair as I gaze through the thick smoke across the common green in my neighbourhood soft gentle breezes and powerful gusts, enough to knock you over, each time I walk outside I attend to each fragrance of the day, sweet florals and then the smoke, the anxiety that pervades the day heavy blanket of smoke, welcoming rain and cooler breezes heading out into Lake Huron at sunrise on a sailboat to get ahead of heavy gusts from the north and already feeling the might of the wind in the waves and swells the wind in my sails, I was wisped away to an island that seemed like the centre of all creation.