If you ever lose heart and the earth seems as distant as stars fading into the noise of your busy mind, know this. That a tiny island exists in the blue hands of the ocean. That a tree grows upright into the salted clouds. That two eagles love each other enough to spend their lives greeting the morning sun together. That two eaglets stand in their nest, gazing at the heavens. Looking down to the forever ground. They eat and sleep and flap their wings. And one day in July, one by one, they will jump into the air. They will know the difference between existing and what is beyond. They will hold onto nothing. The hurricane will come, courage catching their pinions on fire, as they mount the wind, climbing ladders into realms of the invisible.

--T.L. Stokes

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Visitor

(photo by David Hancock, Hancock Foundation, www,hancockfoundation.org)


I had a vision.

Down the staircase was a wood door.
Down more stairs, through the hallway
to the right in shadow was a stone room.
Inside a circle of moon-colored
stones, a great fire burned.
Across the fire sat an old medicine woman
with raven eyes, feathers cascading down
her hair. Deep lines etched into her face
like old stories.

She didn't speak but her presence said everything.
All around the circle we gathered. Then off to my left
on a wooden perch coming out from the stone wall,
sat a young eaglet. Ratty black and gray coat of down
and new pinions. White fluff headdress coming down
to her eyes. Curved beak like a sloping moon
dipped in chocolate.

We knew her name in an instant. Flyer,
come to join us. She seemed to almost smile
when I glanced at her, then hopped off
and waddled over. She put her face close to
mine and nuzzled in. I petted her, marveling at the
closeness and gift of her attention. All the people
around the fire held hands then, and
I don't know what we said or sang or chanted.
I don't know what all of this meant. I don't know
who the medicine woman was or how long we
sat at the fire.

What I do know is this: that an eaglet had joined us,
that we linked hands to celebrate, the black knife
of fear was gone. In the space left empty of fear filled
instead with red and orange flame, with the cool stones,
with warm wise hands, with the face of the medicine
woman silent and present. With the overflowing
constant warm affinity for all things we call love.

And Flyer, free from all hindrance was there. Thanking
us, thanking you, silently speaking the image and thoughts
of her heart, her young, innocent mind, her ancestry,
her future. And more than that in the moment of our love
and sacrifice, came the opening possibility of all things.
I wanted to stay in that room with the fire for a long time,
I wanted to sing and chant and be silent,

I wanted to look into Flyer's eyes and read about forever.

dedicated to all those who helped plan,
support, and execute the successful rescue of Flyer,
the young eaglet who was freed from fishing line
in her Sidney B.C. nest.

C2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Special Thanks to:

Epicure Selections, Sylvie, Derek Rathwell of Drainscope (provider of first mats), Victoria Drain, (provider of additional mats), the crews who kept transferring the mats, the owner of the Pennsylvania mat manufacturing company, Laurie Broughton of L.B. Crane, Lyal, his operator, WildArc, rescue-rehab center in Victoria, Jeff Krieger of Alternative Wildlife Solutions, David Hancock, the Sidney support team, Mindy, Dave Saunders the Mayor of Colwood, Karen, Richard, and all the unsung heros who contributed and supported Flyer's rescue.

(list compiled from the article
by David Hancock: The Sidney Eaglet Rescue - May 19th

Sunday, May 15, 2011



I am here as the world is ending.
The dark rain sinks closer to my heart,
so heavy the night we just survived.
All that I know is this, that you,
my dark little beloved, are calling.
I am close, I am here. I will fight off
this unknown intruder, this unthinkable
cord that holds my child. I am fierce.
I am strong. I call to the heavens
and my ancestors. What is this that
holds her so? What is this I scream
in my distress. My lovely mate is near,
I drink in his steady guard, his strength.

I am here as the world is ending.
I gather up my offspring, my other two,
silent they hide their faces.
My wings will try to cover us all,
I will stay and be here. Shhhh.
I am here. My hungry love
still hunts for solution.
I search the skies. My eyes
gather the universe, come
to my aid. I will call
until I can call no more.
My voice will travel the currents,
reaching every dark, secluded space.
Every sun lit speck, every dot of
existence. It is a spear, an arrow
of blood and love and I will
continue to send it
until the world ends.

Here in this safe place,
a darkness creeps. I am quiet,
I will wait. Shhhh. I am here
now. We will fight until we cannot
fight any longer. We will love
until the moon comes down.
We will stay close,
I will warm you,
I will be here,
until the sun
and the moon
lay their heads
upon us.

for the eaglet Flyer
on the Sidney B.C. nest
who's foot was caught on a line of some kind

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Salmon Song

Salmon Song

We look through layers
of old arms. The dripping green
and flat flowers, fiber of sleep,
petals of collected ultraviolet.

Some call it forest.

To us it has no name.
We feel it, borrowing the chipped
and snapped off offering,
its broken separating piles of names,
heart in pieces, spark of seed.

All through these colors
flows the chant of salmon.
And beyond this, their messages
of river-bended light,
and ocean's mouth
reciting the blood call.

Ancient offspring.
Just as I begin to tell you
my perch's history, all of it

The tree begins to stretch upward,
like an old man unraveling his bones
and holding his flesh high overhead
he becomes something like sky
barked over and burning.
His blood is a river,
black and fragrant.

He turns slowly to our
glowing eyes.

Come sit a while with me,
he says. And learn.
Cast your eyes like eagles.
Watch how everything
constantly changes.

There is no word for this.
Stop. Shhhh. Listen.

So still is the light of all things.
So quiet yet thunderous living.

Here comes the wet and glorious
voice of storm. Tuck under this wide
curved wall and we will watch together.
The woods come down,
the river is a sky.

Sleep if you must.
My breast continues
the drum beat you
have always known.

Filling you, the forest,
the wet black river of

salmon song within you.

for Ostrich

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Monday, May 9, 2011

eagles and the ghosts

On the high woven palace
royalty sleeps. Sun
fiddles and opens the sky.

Alexandra rises on her small legs
leaning on the breast
of her mother.

David tucks his wings
into a feathery broom.

Warmth from the burning heart
of their nest wells up
like water.

Below and around in the voicelessness,
in the lower spectrum
growing still
we gather,

ghosts on limbs and cloud formations,
chatting about the weather,
the next low tide,

if what the fisherman caught
is a rat fish or greenling.

If crow will catch another midshipmen
for the eagle to steal.

Who's coming for mother's day.

In boxes far inland and across whale fields
more ghosts gather. Some sit, some sleep.
Watchers and guardians learning the songs
of hunger, of love,

of warning.

Something falls down. As one, they all turn
toward the crying.

They huddle and use the skills
they learned from raptors: when cold, cover,
when hungry, feed as soon as you can.

When tired, surround and rock to sleep.
Patient they wait, ghosts
know these things.

Be still. There are no right words
so they are quiet. They hand out gifts
of their experience that don't look like

But you feel it. It begins to come to you
like something remembered. The pause,
the place where you can stop

and rest in the night after the day
of all that is happening. And rest before
night comes again.

Balanced, on the axis, we dangle together
mingling, bumping into each other,
loving the ocean of our existence.

Vunerable yet wise.
Learning that even if the light is out,
and the room feels empty,

even if the one who lies so still upon
the floor, leaking life,

seems gone,

what you loved
and felt of the physical being
of their life,

is still within your arms,
against your chest,
warm in the invisible light
of the spirit world.

To the room with the orange couch
bring the bird of your heart.
Take the drink of our friendship,
serve us your tears.

Even the eagles are here on our shoulders
and nothing is too heavy

that this love
cannot carry.

for Gallatin

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Alexandra and the Ancients

Who am I an empty room
of abalone caverns,
collecting thoughts like birds.

Empty handed,
waiting breathless
for the poem
to arrive.

Who am I iridescent, flying light,
reflected shapes, black depths,
finned and wrapped in fluid armor,

spellbound instinct
telling me to crash
between ocean
and the river?

Dark wanderer, sustainer
of a forest, torn into succulent bits
I become feathers,
a sea monster child,
all things,
watch me.

Who am I in the heights
of praying arms and sky,
downy-crowned, round belly,
open mouthed?

Child of the king and queen
of heaven,
promise of a grandmother.

Small teakettle,
fuzzy puddle,
eagle's daughter.

Who am I braided gray
salt water scented
woman of notes and thinking

pondering the deep, the red
and silver messengers,
and giants singing us to sleep?

Curious teacher,
passion-fed observer of detail,
our wind-clothed
learned mother.

Who am I young, innocent learner,
the reader, one who comes
behind to carry on your flame?

Child of fire and vision,
dressed inconspicuous
and plain.

Who am I secret ones,
the hidden feathers,
racing swimmers,
soaring brilliant sun-catchers,

babies not yet born.

Who am I sleeping womb,
attentive mother, cradle
of sweet damp land.

Strong elemental magnet,
patient globe,
watery blue.

Who am I thirst-relieving cup
once overflowing, now trickles,
sand and tear.

Forgotten riverbed,
empty nest of ancients,
footprint of fingerling.

Who am I spider words creeping
across the page.

Sad linger,
dreamer of what was
and is.
Long wander.

Who am I namer of eaglets,
farmer, man who guards
the ancients.

Patient season,
counter of fish
and fledged.

Who am I distant writer.

Rain catcher,

Who am I voice over the trees
reminding you of yourself,
and the pieces we thought lost
or broken,

are here
and simply

intricately connected.

in honor of the work
of Alexandra Morton,

and the eaglet
who shares the same name.

c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)