And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

From “What We Need is Here” by Wendell Berry, 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.

Earth in Us

under my fingernails 
as I prepare 
to plant sunflowers, skies 
of orange
little lush deck 

restore me, restore me

fantastic fungi
forest Earth: moss 
pungent, alive! 
the smell of green
walking, walking, 
feeling the roots 
under my feet…
solid, moving, shifting
eroding banks 
of Red Deer River

digging up lawn, 
chunk by chunk, 
to expose earth 
for new planting
and really examining 
	something closely
in the dirt, with my toddler 

harvesting pines 
to create a place 
of healing, hiking, 
stretching out in the grass, 
driving through devastated 
forests, pouring 
grounds into my garden
hiking by Takakkaw Falls, a new 
every 200 paces, the island 
like the centre of all creation, 
on the ground, 
digging in my garden, skies 
of orange 
a terrible beauty

paddling a canoe 
in Waterton National Park 
on two beautiful sunny days, 
in midst of surrounding
walking along a winding 
path of majestic hoodoos 
by the Milk River
pulling the wine red 
beets from the moist earth 
in my garden, a ruby gem 
to delight
all my senses looking 
out over Writing-on-Stone 
on a quiet morning.