a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
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