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






Tuesday, July 19, 2011

photograph copyright boonibarb/barb biagi







CROW AND THE THREE SISTERS





Broken Crow looked out the window
the year the eaglet died.
Almost body-less, so well hidden
from neighbors, dragged herself
from room to room in the house
of no light.

She would be Summer muffled by clouds.
Word sounds, a gagged mouth,
bone and muscle of a hand curled
and drawn back, an arrow
dipped in weakness coming at her.

Other sounds, like whimpers,
the forest after lightning strikes,
just before flames leak out of the damage.
She would be Summer
in the corner, raining once again, each punch
bringing her closer to Bear,

who is Autumn,
running across the hillside,
gazing at the burning leaves,
shaking out her lovely wild coat,
shoulders the muscle of night.

Always knowing her territory,
Bear gathers details, noting
each piece from the eagle tree,
fields, swallow nests, blueberry bushes.
Earth's scientist, and lover.
Rumbling shape-shifter.
Bear leans her paws

against Crow's screen door. And Crow,
looking and looking and weighing her life,
takes a chance, touches the screen back.
And something begins to come back to her,
begins to stir inside. Autumn's tourmaline eyes
offer back her reflection.

Crow opens the door. Autumn stays
for a time sitting in the living room,
feet up on the sofa. They go to her den,
sip tea, lick honey off the spoon.
Through many nights Autumn's voice
comes steady as granite, honest
as sparrows, begins to change her.

Bear rumbles off into the wood
bringing back another season, Winter.
Hair of snow and eyes, stars in the grass.

It takes the beaten to recognize the wounds,
the violated, to speak languages only victims
utter. Thus Winter came quiet and pure to cover
the ground so Crow could see the Earth as
something different. Fallow at rest,
safe in the hands of higher law.

Winter transformed herself into Peacock,
stepping lightly across the floor, righting
the fallen lamp, straightening the rug,
listening, giving gifts of wisdom;
where to go, who to call, how to run,
how to fight.

Peacock moved off in a soft blur,
came back later with the next season.
Spring was a breath pulled from the Earth
and the sea. She covered Crow in branches
and feathers, bringing her to the next life,
teaching, pointing the way.

Spring stayed forever it seems this year.
Relentless mother of rain, fiery storm-laden,
full of flight then blended into Bobcat slipping into silence,
prayers lifting from her face.

And the seasons, flowed over Crow's body
like water, sun, silence, laughter, like snow, pure and
undefiled, teaching her she was more than
a scream caught on the oak's limbs;
brought her down like something soft,
ready, like a baby in the season's arms.
Cradled. Safe.

The house of wind has always been
a mystery, seasons are chapters
we follow. Bear glances back
at Crow, Peacock glides out the window,
Bobcat looks up as clouds fall into
the sea.

Then thunder tears open Crow's heart
into Young Eagle, she watches the animals
gather into a single vision:

Three Sisters suddenly rise up, opening themselves
Into black wings, reach toward the eagle tree,
veer off, go sideways

into doorways of her forever.





from anonymous:

"for the Three Sisters, with deepest gratitude;
AJL, Jingles, and Mishi
who saved my life.





c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)
c2011 boonibarb/barb biagi (photography all rights reserved)

Saturday, July 16, 2011





Nailed to the Raven



I am nailed to the raven
and thus live a life hell-bent
on revival. The poem always comes
to me like fire, like a mustang
rearing up, clawing at my mute face,
and always, always is the fire raging.
I am a wild fire traipsing across the hills.
My mother, in her dead sense, claps her
hand-bones, jumps up after me in the form
of a bird, sweeps the air
with unbelievable arms, ironed
to perfection, weaved, embroidered,
slapped together. I leap back
from the apparition joyful, exhausted,
as the poem lies on the floor,
crying like a violin baby.
I pick it up,
washing it slightly,
place it in the sun
on the sill like a new butterfly,
damp tangle,
moving with brilliance,
allowing her wrinkles
to flood my eyes,
to widen.

Just then, the raven
flies from my chest.


TINY BOATS



Veronica told us to come by the bay tonight,
main entrance to Big Tribune Bay, July 16th.
Into silence we walk together from the meadow
in a long line, not so much in sadness,
it is that too, but humbled, as something
greater than ourselves rises and covers us with
the ocean of this warm, terrible love. Rain
pulls down our faces, the tide floods. In our
hands are little gifts. In Veronica's words:
"found objects from nature, votive candles,
rose petals and tiny boats to float out to sea."
Our feet sink into sand, southeaster blows
straight in. Hundreds walk together. I kneel
on the shore and set my boat down, try to push
it out, watch it wobble and sail, back
into my hands again.





From Veronica, Orlando's Mother:

"True hope may never be abandoned,
but we believe that Orlando will not be returning to us."

From Wren:

In telling about the southeaster, rain and flooding tide..

"..so all the gifts that were sent on the water came back to us.
You can put whatever meaning you want on that."


c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where Babies Come From





In the bowl Spirit gave me
we cooked up something new,
swirled it around, sprinkled wild seed,
herb-like breath, spices from my mother's side,
and we smoothed out the yard enough
to plant a little garden,

inside this watery sphere
muffled and sun-less
grew some girls.

Two,
one first, and four years later,
another.

One grew tall and the other traveled,
and they both grew
beautiful.

White herons,
ocean's albatross.

When I hear the birds in the far wood
call, I think of them. When the first snow
comes in for landing, or the tide rises and warms.
Fledged and in their own territories
coming back like eagles do,
just to hang out, be close,
show off their wings.

Remind me their feathers and bones
carry their life,
and the air which circles and weaves,
came through me, continues,

sweetens as it moves through them,
setting off chimes who ripple out
from the body's ocean,

currents of daughter-song,
something new,

welcomed and sent back
from infinite mystery








for Heather & Kelsey


c2011 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

WOMAN IN THE ROOM OF LIGHT




The woman in a room of light
walks to the porch and sits to think about
the earth.

If you are sand, you would not be nothing,
you would be a spark, a piece of the original star,
rounded by the wind, sifted by
tongues of the ocean.

And you would lie under the June sun
stretched out like all of us,
like linen, a sheet of many words,
salty textured,

waiting for the ocean
to come love us again.

“I am sand.” she says.
“One tiny grain from all the beaches
of the world.

And if you think about all of us,
all of the sand on all the beaches
of the world,

what a force we make.”

Together, we are the homecoming,
the beautiful hand the ocean
takes, day after day; we are who
she sings to.

We are the foundation of our mother
the earth, and the transition
from whole to water.

Shells and meteor, gold and glass,
we are the expression of Everlasting.
The tiny bits of batsong, eagle-scream,
hum of midshipman.

We are the bone holders, the phosphorescence,
the wind's knee.

Together, we are what the moon and the sun,
the earth and the heavens once were.
We are the image of love leaving itself,
parting, falling away,

and coming home again.

She picks up her coffee cup, stands
and takes one more long, long look
into the woods, to the far off days,

all those green
and shadowy places.


for Jingles



c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

high tide line






These words
are sand after the tide
came and went
misplacing forgotten gifts
they look like broken shells
bits of seaweed
untied and wrinkled
slightly damp
in the shy sun
partially obscured
by her own hands

I think they were meant
to be something more
but without you
to pick them up
how is the giver
to give them?

Water Egg-Blue Planet







On the water egg-blue planet
is an island of trees
and black rocks
with a million eyes
deep-set holding
stories in their
empty light.

Each day the sky cracks
an eyelid, and a creamy milk
like a flower's skin,
or a blush
slowly fills the dark bowl
of night,

until the physical world
becomes itself again.

I want only one word
or two, a poem slight in build
and agile. A single thought
like a creek in summer.

So I cover the waters rushing
from my heart.

Last year in the summer,
on the 14th day of July,
an eaglet stopped breathing.

I know your breath stopped too,
for an instant. We all did.
From that moment on,

after the floods came,
something grew like a new forest.
We had never seen before.

Some would call this legacy.
A man climbs the spire of a cathedral
shaking in his brave boots. Pulls
the eaglet's body into the backpack,
waves at the camera,

to the world
so we could breathe again,
and the chopper flew her
to loving hands
who found the cause
and calmed us,

eventually.
Many hands. Much love.
Phoenix meanwhile churning
away invisible, to her next life.

And after, came courting
and sticks to the bowl
of great branches.

Mom laying bright circles of white light,
two for good measure. Dad busting out
with pride. Hatching. Growing.

And now here we are in the land
of celebration. The breeze and the ocean
gently clapping. Silly to think
this would ever be easy,

or a simple poem. Letting it all go
I sit with you my family in the wood,
the thousand eyes, on every limb
and shore.

Shhhhh.
Listen to our memory. To the gifts
piling up in front of us. The flutter.
The lift off. The next life,

and one who left us for greater things.




in deep gratitude
for Phoenix, and how you continue
to inspire us all.






July 14, 2010 Phoenix, an eaglet close to fledge
became ill and died on the Hornby nest #10. Worldwide,
observers where shocked and grief-stricken. Due to the
amazing efforts immediately afterward and ongoing,
Phoenix has continued to share her legacy and inspire
thousands and thousands of people and benefit other
eagles through donations to wildlife rehabilitation
facilities and ongoing research.

http://www.hornbyeagles.com

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


A Mother on the Beach



The sun feels a little too sharp,
so I stop to let it enter me. The world
begins to slow its frenzied rotation.
My skin is on fire, so I send my eyes
over the roll of wet voices. The ocean
is a mother too. How can I empty her
sad hands? The ocean, I'm told,
holds nothing forever. These are
questions a human asks of mystery.
Spirit world is another place
I've not yet been invited to. My eyes
look for its boundary, for the door
in between the cedars. For the
clasp, the old lock, for the word
that melts hinges. Surely my heart
knows the answer.

I look at my hands, mostly because
my head feels too heavy to hold.
The air is a heavy harp,
I cannot breathe. Why is the room
of grief so empty and why am I alone
here?

My son is as close as the next minute
and I can't figure how to connect
enough lines to map his destination.
I want him here. Oh for one long glimpse
of his skin, or the way he holds his head
when he's smiling. The light I recognize
as only coming from his eyes.

Enough. I beg the distant sky for silence.
For mercy. For anything to make this
unusual pain stop. And the waves
continue to sing so softly
for a moment I think I hear
his voice, feel for a second
something close to peace.





for Veronica-Lynn,
Orlando's mother




c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Search for Hornby teenager to resume today

Search for Hornby teenager to resume today

Crow and the Dump Truck





Crows and ravens. First, let me tell you
about the crow. The raven comes later.
Jeff stops his dump truck in the middle
of the street. The cars had been driving
over the poor bird, flipping and rolling
a bundle of black wings. Traffic behind
the truck waits while the man scoops up
the crow, and stands there, quietly,
looking down at it. Then crow begins
to come back to himself and grips
Jeff's hand like he will never let go.
Jeff puts it by the building,
down in the cool grass. Later,
from work, he comes to check
on the bird who gathers strength.
Jeff, a tall, suntanned country boy,
takes a wheat thin from his lunch bag
and offers it. Crow takes it, and
flies off, each wing beat
a thank you reapeated;

like crows calling,
or water, splashing around rocks,
or ripples of something
that feels so good
it echoes.





for Jeff and the crow



c2011 T.L.Stokes (all rights reserved)

Friday, July 1, 2011



Orlando



The island looks smaller from the air.
Sheets of blue opening their arms
around the rock and sand hem,

like an old woman
left by her fisherman lover
in the innocent days,
now rising from a blue nest,

an island of her own heart.

The forest is reverently hushed,
pointing to the next life
and eagles nest in her hair.

You walk to the cove in your dark
boots looking at the sand like
a book, reading its indentations.

The breeze lifts the ends of your hair,
plays a little while you think.

Orlando could be anywhere.

You try to silence the sound of your
heart, and his mother. She is everywhere
even if she isn't with you.

The weight of the stone
within her is unbearable.
You listen again.

You finger the sand,
and the foot prints
and the places of no foot prints,
reading each word of no letters.

You listen to the wind, your grandfather,
who steadily hums. His words
are vibrations we measure
inside our heads.

You look to the tall sky disappearing
into the hands of a black night.

We try to light what we cannot see
and some cry. It is easier to wait
with a mission in your breast
and your feet falling one
in front of the other,

than in the camp of mothers.

You would hope Orlando's mother
was out too, in a boat or
inside the bird searching.

The waves came to shore this morning
with empty hands.

The breeze lifts a few thin limbs,
leaves use sign language.

You close your eyes, stand facing the sun.
The red kayak will open its secrets.

Listen,
listen to even that which is silent,
it talks too.





for Orlando and his family
and the Hornby Island search effort

c2011 TLStokes (all rights reserved)