FIRE IN US

a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
alone…

From “Fire” by Joy Harjo, 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.

Fire in Us

Deep grief 
with the devastation 
of wildfires
teaching campfire songs
to my grandchildren 
as we gather 
around the fire, 
faces and hearts
aglow


witness 

of the fire-red 
setting sun

Witnessing 

from afar 
and grieving 

for those impacted 
by the forest fires - and grieving 

that our world is on fire 
and warming 
more than ever.

first 
early spring bonfires 
and easy conversation, 
then 
raging forest fires 
surrounding 
and/ or burning 
homes and communities 
I know, flames 
of passion 
for new ministries

Fire was the voice 
of our summer. 
A tension 
unrelenting. 
Watching 
and waiting 
and wondering,
what if? 

The feeling 
of dread 
at the thought 
of evacuation. 

What to save? 
Where to go?

Fire of anger, 
I choke on frustration, 
these smokescreens 
of ignorance, 
fire 
of anger
Blackened
trees, 
burned 
grass, 
loss

Fire : humans 
become 
small, 
insignificant, 
vulnerable. 

Finally 
obedient.

Smoke
in the skies 
made me so 

thankful 
for the filtering 
power of foliage

smoke, 
haze, 
emotions, 
clouding 

my vision

oh the scorching heat 
waves of this summer 
one after another…
and one long fire ban

…oh how
we’ve missed 

our fires….

and the stories 
that are told…

prayer

fatigue 

for lives large 

and small 

destroyed 

by fire 

upon 

fire 

upon 

fire