Thursday, November 26, 2009


When we buried you, the ground was still just soft enough to break with the shovel, the tip cutting through an inch-hard layer of frost on the surface, winter’s first kiss. The child’s tears flowed as we put your small body, stilled now, wrapped in flannel, on a bed of hay at the bottom of the narrow hole I had chiseled carefully alongside a newly-planted fir tree. Goodbye, sweet guinea, I said, but the child’s body was wracked with grief as she choked on the words, so we left you silently then in stilled dreams.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tantalizing haiku

Glory of the night!
New moon hides in winter’s shroud
Frigid, lacy scales

How can I resist the temptation of 3 little lines, a mere 17 syllables? We're all on the mend; the flu is nothing against my precious stockpile of medicinal herbs and potions. Bit by bit, I'm finding my way back to the computer. I hope to visit my blogging friends again shortly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Healing haiku

When cough, fever, chills
wrack your body, wrap it warm
elder flower tea

(The kids and I are all home sick with the flu this week. What a great opportunity to dig through my herbal medicine chest, stoke up the woodstove, and cuddle up warm.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forgotten angels

The truth swings round. The memory
too old for this, too old for this now

a bridge, broken loose swinging, a slow arc
through river’s mischievous current
swim, swim, flutter kick home

swings round. The arc a small child running,
a curve, giggles full of glee, arms held wide
to snatch and spin, laughing round,
spinning to the ground. The memory held
lost now, lost now, too late to swim home

precious as a momentary lapse of moth,
brush of wings, silver powder the gift,
scattered carelessly, of long forgotten angels.

Rachel Westfall
November 11, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your bed is full of dragons

Your bed is full of dragons, their tails
wrapped surreptitiously through clefts and hollows, soft
and abandoned with the breath of your sleep still clinging
like dew to a cottony nest. Your bed

is strewn with nightingales, each one
holding a grand story treasured in her breast, sung clear
as mountain air to the delight
of dreams, the sweep of meadows. The breath

of dragons, the clinging of nightingales sticks fast
to the cuffs of your flannel pyjamas, abandoned
in a crumpled lonesome pile as you dashed forgetful,
forgotten, singing your donkey song into a bright new day.
Rachel Westfall
November 5, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

shallow roots

Something has gone terribly wrong in the native culture education programming in our elementary schools. My daughter told me last night that she can't be native, because she doesn't eat moose. We talked about it again in the morning, and she said a man came into her grade 1 class last year and taught them how to make gopher and beaver traps. As an animal lover and a vegetarian, she was offended by the idea of killing these animals, so she rejected the whole notion of native culture and tradition, and disowned that part of her own ancestry.

As we talked this morning, my daughter got more and more upset to hear that things like picking wild berries, making wildcrafted herbal medicines, and knowing the sacred plants are also native traditions, ones which we practice in our family, yet these things are overlooked completely in the 'native culture' teachings at school. Though our conversation is a start, I've got the feeling that something has been broken, and I'm not sure how to fix it.

shallow roots

last child in the woods
never wondering how you got here
heart dreaming green and crowberry
soaring song and the owl’s cry
clanless in school halls
as they talk the culture
you say isn’t yours because
you’d never do it that way
the way those experts say
their hands weaving near-forgotten traps
and kneading borrowed recipes of dough

last child in the woods
spirit of my heart
you are the forest’s daughter
berries roots and medicines of green
brow furrowing at what they say
no matter what they say
you create the way

Rachel Westfall
November 1, 2009