I recently experienced the loss of a dear and beautiful friend, was witness to her slow and then rapid deterioration as her body withered and wilted until it could no more. This poem was written about our last time in the forest together, the forest she loved so deeply, during a brief stay when I could nurse her at my home.

As we become more and more aware of the loss of our forests, our wild places, our healthy oceans and the creatures of land, sea and air that we will never ever see again, this poem reminds me that we are bearing witness to the slow and rapid death of our living, breathing planet. I am sure I’m not alone in feeling this deep ache of loss in my solar plexus. And yet, I agree with Charles Eisenstein when he says we cannot fall into the trap of despair, of hate and blame for those whose hands destroy, because it becomes debilitating, paralysing, and we no longer have the impetus for action. As painful as it is to bear witness to the loss of all that we love we need to focus on the here and now and what we can achieve with our own two hands in our own spaces – grow, teach, share, make, innovate, connect. We are the ones we have been waiting for….

Forest Scent

The forest flowers are discreet

nothing garish or bold

a small white flower here

another creeping on a tendril 

over the forest floor there

and here a tiny curved bower

of white bell flowers

hanging off an emerald fern

its perfume so strong and sweet and deep.

I pluck it,

for you to breathe in deep

on its sweet heady scent,

hesitating in the knowledge

that once plucked 

its power will slowly start fading

until the scent that defines it

that draws it into the dance

of life and attraction

with flying creatures of the night

for pollination and procreation,

its sweet smell will no longer be.

Is a flower still a flower without its scent?

But I pluck it

because you cannot walk to the tiny flower bower

still hanging on the fern

your strength and life force

are slowly fading

as if you were a flower plucked

too early

and your essence

that draws you into this earthly dance

is fading like a flower’s scent.

So I pluck it

for you to breathe deep

on the sweet delicate perfume

that is here

that is now

the flower and the breather

equally here now

equally fading

the molecules of sweetness in the air

fill your weak limbs

as you lie back on the thick green mossy root

of the big Milkwood tree

looking up at the crown

of branches against the sky

its leafy fingers

stretching out like lung capillaries.

And I don’t know

when you will ever lie on a mossy forest floor again

confined as you are

to the crisp white linen of your bed

a flower plucked.

We all gravitate to you

moths to the white flower of the night

to be in the presence 

of your wisdom and dark wit

your storytelling and symbol laden fairytales

as your beautiful flower scent

your essence, your you

still fills the air.

As we leave the Milkwood tree

for the last time

you step gingerly over the fallen piano at its foot

a mangle of well rotted earth smelling wood

and the wire of piano strings

returned to source

feeding the forest 

that birthed its wooden shell and ivory keys

a piano by name alone now

for no song comes

from its mossy humus wood.

Is a piano still a piano without its song?

We walk out the forest

you, me

and the sweet smelling flower bower

still pulsing in my palm.

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