When you’re walking

When you’re walking Ogden Point breakwater at sundown, covered in yellow light, watching the silhouette of the Olympic Mountains sharpen under a near-full moon that’s climbing above the Dallas Road cliffs, holding hands with Deb, her palm cool on yours, and you pass a young couple fishing, a small lamp beaming between them as they cast their lines into a sea so still that the rigged spoons ring out as they clap the water; when a small dog bounces on the concrete walkway as she watches a great blue heron, full of patience and standing on an island of bull kelp studying a place just beneath the surface of the ink-green ocean, and when you approach the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater and see its orange flashes soaked up by the dusk, while a pilot boat pliés past toward a container ship to help steer it through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a girl with dyed deep-red hair, courting only quietude, glows down on the rocks while watching the far shore transform under a bruised peach sky, and at her back the moon runs its nickel ribbon along the salt water kissing every ripple on its way to meet the water in your own eyes…you can believe that all the world is without strife.


Watercolour by Virginia Brubaker

These strangled prayers for peace

I’m alone on the beach, but for a thousand driftwood friends, some reasonably good throwing rocks, and a cigar for rumination.


I’m sitting on an ancient bleached log, blowing Nicaraguan smoke over the Juan de Fuca Strait, worrying about earthquakes, hurricanes and nuclear war. (The word worry, by the way, is a mash-up of some old English and German meaning to ‘strangle’, or ‘seize by the throat and tear’.)

I would have made a terrible Buddhist (as it is, I fail the bar of half-assed Christian), so attached am I to suffering the-anticipated; fretting some feverish future. (You can catch my act, a gloomy Billy Bragg singing: Way over yonder in the dimming gr…een, ain’t nobody that can fret like me, ain’t nobody that can fret like me.)

To fix this I decide that worry is a form of prayer: so here I am, in solidarity with the rest of the world’s worriers, storming the gates of tomorrow, preveniently seizing, strangling, worrying peace-on-earth into being…

and sitting in this fragrant acrid cloud
I watch the light play on the waves
and like some augur of old
I pine
for a sign:
perhaps some solicitous sand crab
to move my parked imagination
into the bright eelgrass of presence
so hold to my heart
peace as a possibility.


Thirty-one years and still we prune


For years you pruned the wild saskatoons that grew up the lane by the cottage,
while I carted the blighted branches, their leaves curled and black, to the fire pit.

Spring after spring passed and you widened the circles against decay.
Sparrows followed you, the squirrels watched and the frogs across the road sang.

And then it came,
up through the cuttings, new growth pushing through.

Thirty-one years and still we prune, don’t we love.  Sure
we’ve lost some, but many survived, and many bear fruit, much of it sweet.

Happy Anniversary Deb.

Feather cloud above the cerulean skin of the Pacific


Yesterday afternoon, walking east of Victoria’s Breakwater along the Dallas Road cliffs, above the brilliant cerulean skin of the Pacific, a cirrus “feather” cloud formed above us.

I stopped in the middle of the trail, reached up to take its picture. I stood there, my head cranked back, until the dizzy point arrived and a couple wearing concerned smiles moved past me.

feather cloud (GrowMercy)

There are days when things cohere, and stillness and clarity draw near as if on cat feet.

There are days when love floods our calculations and manipulations, and this world-in-travail drops away, exposing those petty resentments that lead us to war (within and without), and we change a little, if we wish.

There are days when every crystalline cloud prisms a rainbow of ways through your darkness, signals the glory of drawing breath on this earth, offers you the great bounty of just enough.

And there are day’s when you arrive exactly where you should be; a place that’s not “down on any map,” as Melville said, “true places never are.”