wild tales

this wkend i got to hike up to hunter mountain in my beloved catskills and help with repairing the devils acre lean-to.. through rain, a little bit of hail, blue sky, a gorgeous clear night, and then waking up in 19 degrees & 6 inches of snow! thanks to destination backcountry adventures & the best guides/volunteer crew, i LOVED it.

hiking & working in the woods is a microcosm of life. you’re learning at every moment & you have to be ready for anything. carry logs? re-shingle a roof? break camp in the snow? let’s go. and the things that stop you cold in the city, that raise your anxiety.. you don’t have time for it here. i love the catskills because- everytime- they bring me back. no notifications, laughter with strangers who become friends, strength stretching, and the kind of silence that fills you instead of making you uneasy. thank you DBA & co for the chance to return to woods & work and remember why i started the journey this past summer. every lesson you need to learn is in the earth.

[here’s some more photos and dave’s post about the tripΒ on the DBA website

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it’s been a long-time wish of mine to experience camping & hiking in the snow, especially since i started training as a wilderness guide & educator last year.. i missed going adventuring this winter due to an extremely rough season in my head & heart.. but unexpectedly, on this trip at the beginning of spring, got this. /// these are the moments.

XO

a.

[psst- upcoming poetry & performance events are listed HERE!

edit//

after writing this, i cruised through some notebooks from summer of last year onward (all affectionately entitled “WILDERNESS”) and revisited the trips i’ve taken since getting involved with DBA and another amazing organization, discover outdoors. i dug out two poems and realized they both mentioned birch trees- bookends of each other, one born out of the first trip i took with DO as a client/observer, and the other from one of the last trips i went on before winter, the first i ‘really’ led as a guide. i remember scribbling in tiny notebooks while on trail, trusting my feet.. ‘i am a student of the forest. i feel so at home in the woods it’s unbelievable. this is my SOUL PLACE.’

black rock

birch trees like
candlelit
stalks
my heart
anointed,
fire of gold
leaves and
strewn rock
footprints
out of a dream
covered in
moss
sweet ache
in the limbs,
hearty like
the souls of old
here the trail
markers
are clear
northern-most
orientation
the pin in
my heart
settles not on
anything i
know,
stop its flicker
and spin,
only wonder-
only here
only this.
the forest
unfolds like
walking into
a flame
blue and turquoise
blazes
remind me of the sea
my other home
now here
shrouded in the
canopy
my other mother
just as powerful
as the flesh
and blood
who taught
me to be
the red blaze
among the
green
the fire flicker
ofΒ salamander
feet
the forest
she speaks to me
but now refuses to
whisper-
how can you waste
another day
of this
not being
your life?
let the wild
tendrils of your
heart sink
deeper
into me,
onlyΒ i
will anchor you
not the flimsy
mortal fiber
that binds you–

high pt mtn

trail teaches you to focus, be present
flex the sinew of your awareness..

stark birch standing like
ghosts of a former
self
i remember you
you gave me these
shoes
you used to lead me
now i’m leading
myself
the leaf litter
glitters with
some kind of
mystic certainty
there is a trail
where there
is no trail
(just because you’re
walking it)
life is like that.
that woodpecker
is knocking on
the door of
my old life
it echoes through
the trees
like an affirmation
i will fill my
heart with
forest footsteps
and streaks of
sunlight
thank
god i let my
hollowness
be filled
by this-
i keep forgetting
to say grace
when i eat but
each inhale of
verdant atmosphere
is prayer
i remember jesus
in the garden
he is my
wilderness sound
she says
your senses are
heightened
we humanimals
know when to
twist before
a bone will
snap
does a heart
react the same way?
it’s all instinct-
leading them
as i’m leading myself
take us to the
promised land!
he says
without knowing
how right he is-
exodus from
false self to
true self
i fold my
wings like a
prophet in
cathedral
this is how
i give thanks.

only.

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of winter and the war. at this point i only care for what will bring me back to life.. happy (belated) snowstorm, nyc.

“you must not give way to desires which you don’t believe in. i know what you desire. you should, however, either be capable of renouncing these desires or feel wholly justified in having them. once you are able to make your request in such a way that you will be quite certain of its fulfillment, then the fulfillment will come. but at present you alternate between desire and renunciation and are afraid all the time. all that must be overcome.”

“i have been and still am a seeker, but i have ceased to question stars and books; i have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. my story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams- like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.”

-hesse, ‘demian.’

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when i dream it’s of us looking down, watching everyone else from the heavens.
-s.w.

i kiss you in the space
where wings should be
place my fingers
on your ribs
where candles could be
you’d think our hearts
would be tired of this
by now
but the snow is enough
pull up the blankets
fold back into
the memory.
there are never enough
words about you
scribbled in half-light
with white-out outside
slipping in like
reality under sheets of
perception
you have always been
beautiful enough
to make me forget
everything
else-
and so i
fit myself against you
like a prayer
i somehow still remember
how to say.
your body-
tones to some
other world
i am following
my own
sunken footsteps to
winter, reprise-
again.
how many times
can you write and
rewrite
your skin it
makes these
words, my
body remembers
to trust you
in these
frigid days
the first and last place
to ever truly find
the only warmth that
could receive me-
only.
i am writing you again
when i swore i wouldn’t
your flesh under my pen,
hot.
like the whispers you make
in sanctuary,
half gracious, half afraid,
when something other than god
breathes the chill
into the wind-
our legends are dead..
sleep until
the winter light
seems brighter
than the rest-
no page could contain
you..
your foot against mine
twitches
sinking into
snow footprints
on the other side,
are you
following me
this time?
if i could
slip this pen
between your
bones i’d say
leave it there
because
there’s always
something else
to be written,
rewritten
black ink, my
name
scribbled over
lost fingertips
of those who
touched you
while i was
gone
is it
possible
to rewrite a
memory?
trust my
hands
because
the words came
from there too
and the hands
take work
the ways they
make you
understand
in ways the
heart never
could
i am doing
this work
right now
for another winter
too long to
remember
separation
too short to
ever
ever
forget.
i kiss the space
where your wings
should be
because i still
remember
they could.
words are hands
and hands are
prayer
alive, tonight.
i light the
candle where
your rib
should be
god’s unsteady
hand
cracked
that bone
when he made
me.
he knew
the two
of us
wouldn’t learn
enough
if we were
complete..
sleepwalking
back
to the origin story
in a blizzard.
isn’t that just
what we
always
do?
trust the hands
when the
heart
can’t see-
another winter
in our
muscle
memory.

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om agnaye namaha,

XO

a.