I drink a long time.
 It tastes like stone, leaves, fire...

From “At Blackwater Pond” by Mary Oliver, 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.

Water in Us

I was carried by a water lily 
to an island that seemed 
like the centre of all creation
birds fishing
the restorative gurgling
of babbling brooks
rain, pouring over me 
like a prayer, 
soaking me with joy

water holding my kayak 
afloat, water 
from a hose 
rescuing garden 
plants on days of extreme

the coolness 
of water droplets 
as the kayak paddles 
Chain Lakes 
on a 35 degree 

icy cold water 
rushing down from mountaintop 
to numb my feet

the old woman wheedles 
to be taken to the beach. 
She swims, majestic, 
her arms like a prow,
Water. Such relief 

that some rain came 
at last, after more 
weeks of drought 
than I have ever 			
seen. Loons 

on the lake
at dusk, we watch 
them, listen
Rain water 
washing smoke 
from the air, 
cleansing one 
yet carrying ash 
into our rivers

Water: sea, crystal 
clear bobbing salty 
a miracle after the fire.

Water: ice liquefied, 
hot bodies 
in a glacial water-
fall: miraculous

the drops of cold 
and bursting 
on the ground 
while thunder cracks 
the sky 
and my son 
under the clouds, 
rain cooling 
our faces.

bare feet in the cold 
water at the edge 
of the Bow River

swimming in silky 
black lake, 
the island 
a little further than it looked
in May and September 

being alone with water 
in my daily swim…
so beautiful…
such silence…
just me and the water…

A source of relief 
and joy - jumping 
into lakes and letting
the cool waters 
me. Floating 
in the water and looking 
up at the sky.

silvery water
evening swim

hot and lazy 
beside the lake, 
with blessed dips and swims…
finally with our children

I rejoice in receiving 
the fresh rain 
that fills my rain 

The slow moving river 
and refreshment

Salt water, 
drawn by the moon 
and the wind. Our lives 
guided by her movements.