Saturday’s Poem: Put Me Outdoors

Put me outdoors, into the arms of evening.

Let pungent winds enfold me, lift me to a hiding moon.

May birds whisper sweetness, cougars lie with paws close,

deer stir inside pearled twilight, eyes bright as honey.

Put me on a saved trail, into satin cloak of dark.

Let the sky find me, Cassiopeia and Cygnus, loyal Venus.

May waters ruffle and mirror, fish tip into blue hush of sleep,

river otters float among dancing grass, muddy stones.

This useless poem is trying to find itself,

is an urgent dream

as demon fires kidnap, possess

flailing branches, a tapestry of roots;

to punish the life-giving dirt;

smother forsaken ones, their dwellings of love.

How does one sleep in a night like this?

How does one rest when I cannot

step outdoors to take in a breath,

am not to trod the trails first

shaped by God’s mastery, of holy

regard for all? Days and nights

are sleepwalkers, are at the mercy of raging

otherness that covets the beauty.

Nothing but ash and tears track the stinging hours,

the birds silenced, the cougar screaming softly,

the deer racing and wandering lost, the fish–

the fish who float somewhere, waiting,

small sleek bodies shimmering

in garish light of ambush,

this curse of wildling fires.

My heart pounds the heavy drum of me

as forests fall, let go, are defeated, gone.

Please, put me outdoors into the mourning night;

grant me one prayer for gifts of the emerald life–

for healings to lift up all creatures once more,

to allow more worship in the arching realms of leaves,

under maps of a trillion stars, light messengers of hope.

Soon release us of this beast’s dominion

and teach us to become wise, how to live in these times

o God o God o God amen

(Close to a million acres have burned in Oregon in unprecedented firestorms. They burn near me. We wait for containment, for victory over them, and a long recovery.)

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