The Practice of Presence: Responding to Inner & Outer Landscapes Field Notes and Poems (Part Two)

SWW 2015 Beach sitting
North Cascades Institute hosted a class called Sit, Walk, Write: Nature and the Practice of Presence. Participants began their days with a sitting meditation, followed by writing and sharing poetry and short nature essays, walking meditation, and exploring the woods around the Learning Center. Here are some participant poems that came out of this unique weekend in the North Cascades. The first group of pieces from this year can be found here.
Poems in Response to “Voices from the Salmon Nations” by Frances Ambrose
Those great, smooth boulders
were they polished by glaciers?
or by the years of glacial melt
relentlessly flowing over and around?
or by countless salmon bodies brushing their sides
on the struggle upstream?
Death for a rock comes
when it is ground to powder by wind, waves, other rocks
and then dissolved in water
to become food for plankton and algae
in turn, food for feeder fish
who become dinner for salmon.
The next time I eat salmon patties
will I remember and praise those ancient rocks?
When I die
I too will return to molecules
that will feed the smallest to largest creatures,
Great boulders: you and I are kin.
Late Fall
The river stinks.
Dead salmon litter the banks.
Rotting fins float in the eddies.
Eyes pecked out by crows.
Whole carcasses carried into the forest by eagles,
remnants scattered on duff below tall perches.
Fat bears waddle away, fish blood on their muzzles.
Stink and happiness everywhere.

SWW 2015 Tree in Sun
By Beth Stimson
Cold water rushing
As countless swirling salmon
Dance through the river.
By Diablo Lake
By Mimi Gorman
Fish jump, splash, I laugh
Fish jump, splash, I laugh again
Fish is full, me too.
sun dips toward hills
lake collects its golden beads
I string them for me.
Scattered on the shore
a mosaic of twigs and stones
invite swim or skip.
A River’s Freedom
By Mimi Gorman
Old growth hugs the lake.
KaBoom! Elwha Dam explodes.
Welcome home salmon!
River meets ocean
salmon gather, swim, spawn, die
The Elwha River
once choked by a dam, runs wild
Walls inhibit me

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