‘What does it mean that the earth is so beautiful? What is the life I should live?” -Mary Oliver

There is a scar across my lover’s face, a malignancy left unchecked until it was too late. From this distance I can see it clearly. Isn’t it odd the way that works, how proximity makes us blind.

I’d craned to see her through this tiny portal in the belly of this bird, imagining my own legs pattering down that runway, as down the length of some pristine northern lake, my wings flapping wildly for the lift, the rumble of the engines like the beating of my heart. I’d wanted to behold the earth as Swan, making my way home.

For two solid hours my eyes were rapt as I sought to take in her Beauty. Now my neck is as stiff as my heart is heavy from the strain. Still imagining myself a bird, I wonder where I might land to rest or nest. Seeking out some scrap of habitat, I look for someplace free of lines. My experience and my intuition tell me that I’ll thrive only outside the lines, but below me, my lover’s face is crisscrossed like some Frankenstein. Her story, like his I fear, an horrific ending to man’s hubris.

I gaze upon her still with wonder, envisioning her face beneath those gridlines, her hair still lush with volume, her flesh still flush with the flow of arteries and veins, unmuddied and undammed, her eyes still liquid pools, sparkling as they were the day that I first met her. Still, I behold her as Beloved, craning to take in every furrowed barren brow, each graceful muddied curve, each sweep of silt. Gazing now as archeologist at a skeleton, I fill in her flesh with my imagination.

Below me, I can imagine the contours of her beauty, flooded now, as are those northern climes that I call home. Those furrowed brows – mountain ranges and plateaus- islands in some great sea of reclamation. Clearly I can see the wash of tides, inlets and fingered bays, as clearly as when I study maps at home spread out before me on the table, envisioning each sweep of shoreline like a dream.

Those ridges and mountains are labeled as ‘relief’ upon a topographic map. Relief they offer to these weary eyes of mine, which continue to scan for home. With no evidence from this vantage of human intervention, they are islands of sanctuary in the midst of barrenness even now. No scars to trace a line upon her flesh upon those higher reaches.

Upon my lover’s face, there is a scar. We were both surprised by how little time it took for it to heal, so severe was its appearance when those bandages were first removed. If you didn’t know his face intimately, as I do, you might not know at all he had been scarred .

I trust that the earth will be no different, when at last the malignancy that we are is extricated from her flesh. She has begun healing, perhaps, already. Her oceans rising, as she has risen many times before in her long life, to wash the landscape clean of our iniquities, a great salt water lavage to cleanse her body of our violation. Perhaps the scars that we have made will vanish along with us.

Except to those who love her intimately, no one would ever notice.



I am a quiet soul. That doesn’t mean that things don’t move me, and deeply so, but it might mean that the way movement is expressed in me might look different than the way it is expressed through you.

My way of being has too often been derided. I have been goaded when I don’t choose to ‘step out’, as if out of myself, which must appear to be some sort of prison to you. But like that ‘sharp, or electrically charged pointed stick’ used to prod any creature out of its natural environment and into a cage, your goading is merely painful. The ways that you use shame to ‘encourage’, really only make me feel like retreating far from you.

But I am weary of receiving these wounds, of returning to lick them in the darkness. And so, I’ll move into the sun this time, let its warmth soothe, and in that light I see that what you deem as ‘less than’ is my beauty. What you deem as weakness is my strength. My silence. My stillness. My movements. My courage. My grace.

My virginity. Yes, virginity is the word that comes. A woman intact and unbroken.  An integrity that cannot be broken by your piercing words, nor entered by the seeds of your scorn. They say that a woman of my age comes around again to that in this great circle, returning to her Self with integrity. Comes back again to her own wildness- a wildness that looks to you like waste, but in truth is dignity. Freed from your defining cage, where my movements are proscribed within your display, I dance, I fly, I soar, I race, I sing, I roar.

You do not see me in that way. The wildness of my soul eludes you. The beauty of my ways confuses you. But the movements of my spirit are not dependent upon your approval. What you deem unworthy, I re-deem as Home, and I will brave that wilderness. Alone.


Photo by Paul Cottis





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