A Matter of Place

Blue-gray morning and sun-obscuring clouds is my place

Place of home and creation

A home where words are birthed and where my body lives

Location of being

I make my place here by walking barefoot on the backyard dirt

By feeling the crunch of autumn leaves I wait months to remove

from around my home so the animals and ground critters can bask in them

as they desire

Placemaking on this land is to keep the peace between the canine and feline

I live my life with

To spend quiet moments observing and whistling to the native birds that daily

occupy the old oak trees standing strong all around me

Photo by Georgina Marie, Oak Trees in Winter, Lakeport, CA

Much less a poem, more of an observation of my place of home in this time. After attending a writing workshop this past weekend, the following prompt was offered, “What does place and placemaking mean to you?”. This is a glimpse into what my place has become for me during a worldwide pandemic. – Georgina Marie

The Waiting

Winter morning 

icy groundcover and overcast sky

I walk the neighborhood

Stop and stand beneath a tree

whose species I do not know

breath seen on the exhale, releasing upward

as neck stretched back, eyes awe-struck 

taking in the lime green of bunches of leaves

tucked tightly in the tallest peaks of its arms

tracing the leafless branches, umber and gray toned

between the layered twigs, a body, dappled

spotted belly, gray, black, and rounded

underside of a tail orange and dark

            a flicker

I have seen you in books, in digital pages

your raven-sun tail feathers gifted to me

wrapped in thin baby-blue yarn

such beauty and tenderness of your design

I have waited for you

and here you sit silently, dazzling, observing

I set aside all expectations now

I know if I wait your flight will aim my way  

If I am only patient

as the street cat who peers into the cracked door

of a home, waiting to give in, to trust

to weasel her way into a warm, safe life

curled up in a corner bed, soundly asleep

until her human returns from walking into epiphanies

with western birds.

Photo by Georgina Marie, Flicker Feathers and Elements

Asking of the Body

A Call and Response

How do I begin to converse with you?

Does this year make you feel colder?

When will you stop aching?

Why do you hurt so much?

Do you think you’re beautiful enough?

For a life partner? For anyone?

If you lose weight?

When will you know you are enough?

When will you finally break from bending over backwards?

How are you feeling?

How are you moving in this world?

What makes you feel better?

Who loves you?

Who sees you?

What do you need?

What do you need to let go of?

What’s hurting you?

What’s burdening you?

I have so many more questions, are you listening now?

Will you answer?

Photo Collage by Georgina Marie, Fragments of Self-Portrait, Northern California

As I ask my body these questions, I offer the same questions for yours and the option to respond with your answers.

Fire Follower

In the chaparral of daylight he

In the black of the night he

In between the fire poppies he

Speaks and I listen

In the distance between ancient lake to godly coast he

In a twilight of gray sky and white smoke he

In a way the snapdragons sing he

Sighs and I still listen

Whispering bells come to stillness

Lupines saturate in blue violet hues

After the fire he sparks

What else will bloom?

Photo by Georgina Marie, Summer Flowers in Fire Season, Lakeport, CA

Pandemic Verse in Senryu

Cold days are here now

How the body craves warm skin

Unsafe to be close

Manzanita path

I walk with humans I love

No smiles are seen

A thousand mornings

Only dog and I in bed

Isolation still 

Autumn apples rot

Many on the cold hard ground

Food for the loud birds

Virus to learn from

It is not just about you

Compassion is life

Harmful to gather

But nature is always there

Be grateful for this

Photo by Georgina Marie, Fall Morning, Lakeport, CA

To Be Still Is to Be Animal

How the sun glimmers and glistens through Valley Oaks on a rustic hillside. How the warmth permeates amber honey skin and a tense body loosens. How the ground cover of fallen autumn leaves aches of a soothing vibrancy. How I breathe between these happenings. How yearning for more makes the muscles weak, turns the heart to a tiny blue egg, an oval shape, a crack on all sides as if someone took it and threw it into the night sky. How the brittle shell was adorned with cornflower and flaxen. How I came home to myself after the breaking, half-human, half-bird. How winter frost is arriving again. How a hunger remains. How the Burrowing Owl and the American Robin observe, witnessing all of this. How they don’t swallow time in the same way or long for difference. What if all of this was enough?

Photo by Georgina Marie, Autumn Leaves, Lakeport, CA

Eyes and the Unsaid

as if the light blue marbles I’d toss around as a child 

were used to make the eyes of the man sitting beside me

the hues of the sea staring back at him, a mirror

a cold, wet wanting nears and retracts in the ebb and flow 

waves creep slowly onto moist sand

new sensation, same old desire

want. yes. all of it.

I soften my tongue to let the words loose, to

deliver an ancient scroll made of persimmon 

and saltwater berries

a practiced reveal shudders around in the heart valves

words crafted in silver

sweet, sweet but I still don’t speak 

a chew of raw attempt 

the outlining of letters in the mouth 

how a woman once a girl manifested a high seas man out of marble

and lost her words to the sea

Photo by Georgina Marie – Mendocino, California

“U’i (Beautiful)

My brother

on top of Koko Head peak today

any other day

he may be lost

or just on other mountaintops

Diamond Head

Lanikai Pillbox 

Some days he is small 

in his head

bible in hands

pain, remembrance of

days lost as a kid

We all had to grow up

a little too fast

we all had to survive

a little too much

to make it through days

as skeletons floating

like piñatas 

above winery land

We were hot air balloons 

in Calistoga

on days our childhood house

was always in mode

of lights out and violence

Now you walk outside to see 

colorful fabrics high in the air

flames giving way to

speed and light to

fly away from this life

to be bigger than this life

Brother

you and I

they and us

we aren’t kids anymore

it’s like we took those shades off and

see this new panorama

see this scenery

see these murals with messages

broadcasting how we don’t belong

to our skeletons of sad children

We can be anywhere

like you are now

in the Honolulu hills

Oahu beaches

pineapple mountains 

and palm trees

There is nothing bigger than your grace

bigger than you

e kūlia i ka nu’u

Photo by Georgina Marie, Tropical Flowers in Rural Country, Ukiah, California

e kūlia i ka nu’u” is a Hawaiian proverb meaning “strive to reach the highest”.

-Georgina Marie, Poet in Residence

“Seaside Obituary” A Poem by Poet in Residence Georgina Marie

I remember it exactly as the day it was:

gray, overcast, the air salty

from pounding waves the coastal winds learned to master 

To get there, you had to enter a winding road

where each side of the concrete pathway 

was lined with standing gods in the shapes of redwoods

the scent of the air pungent with pine and petrichor 

as it entered the pickup truck windows

rolled down just enough to feel the chill 

I was his daughter, once 

This day may have been the last day it was apparent

 

A drive to the ocean side

A walk through old settlement grounds of Jenner

Place of original windmills, place of migration

He bought me an abalone hairclip

He ripped seaweed from rocks to humor his daughter 

to feed his grumbling hunter stomach

How I long to remember how gentle this day was

how softly he tore the long, dirty green leaves from rugged rocks

contrasting how often his hands and words hit harder 

than the ocean hits sea stacks that have existed 

long before the sand we once stood on ever contained memory

  

How strange, what is revealed when remembrance 

chooses to reveals itself to you

how a sense of lonely becomes an unraveling tide

controlled not by the moon but by memory that pushes and pulls

opening neurological seascapes of muted recollections

that still call my name 

The ocean will always outlive us

I have outlived him

Photo by Georgina Marie, Limantour Beach, Point Reyes, California

This is my first post with Karma Compass! You will see poems from me on grief, trauma, healing, and more.

-Georgina Marie, Poet in Residence