image by Joseph Horvat

This poem is a kind of mythology.

And like all mythologies it uses story to help us digest and contemplate deep and complex things that we find hard to fathom in ‘everyday’ language.

It is a story that speaks of the essential role of grief and joy within this glorious system of life we are each embedded within — this living system that relies on a cascade of death for its very perpetuation; each living being must die in order that life can continue: life feeds life. These are part of the natural cycle of losses.

To live within this system, full bodied grief is an essential skill that allows us to hold the whole of life within ourselves — it brings us to a place of joy despite the ‘natural’ losses that we will bear within our lifetimes.

We have now found ourselves at a time where many of us lack the capacity to accept our mortality or hold grief; this has led to this precarious place in history where we are prepared to treat the living world as nothing but a resource to distract us from the truth (and difficulty) of being part of this living system. We have disconnected ourselves from the living world — and as a consequence we are now experiencing a cascade of unnatural losses beyond what any being is supposed to experience.

This poem calls for us to remember that we are an essential part of a living earth; and to remember that for a living earth to perpetuate, death is required and its contribution to life is sacred.

This poem invites us each to remember that:

in grief [we] can proceed*
…in fact, in grief we must proceed.

* from poem proceed by GT

a long time ago
when the earth
was only just born

the child of gravity
—  swirling
—  galactical dust
—  into a spherical body
—  in space

she was considering
how she would
contribute to
the beauty
of the universe

. . . . .

she envisioned
a tapestry
of colour
and ever-growing vibrancy

she envisioned
the tapestry of life

as she did
she was overcome
with grief

for she knew

that for her
vision to be

each beautiful stitch
in the tapestry
could only ever be

each being‘s life
would be
an essential
yet temporary stitch
in the ever changing

each being
—  would need to die

their death

a gift to the
becoming of new life

greater diversity
—  greater complexity
—  could only unfold

—  if nothing
—  remained the same

each generation

the ancestors
of future vibrancy

each generation
stitched into the
tapestry of life

. . . . .

as she envisioned
and held the joy
of her creation

she prepared for herself
a shroud for her grief

to mourn
the loss
of each of the beings
not yet born

the children of her body
not yet born

that she loved
even before
she knew who
they would become

. . . . .

for a billion years
she prepared herself

until she knew

that the sparks
she would weave
into her body

would ignite

and grow
into the tapestry
of life

she watched
with joy
as each new life
was born
made connections

as each beautiful being
lived and died

each being
—  stitching
—  their life
—  into her tapestry
—  contributing to
—  the creation of
—  ever-more
—  vibrant conditions
—  for future life

as she held the joy
she held the grief

as each
of her children

there could be
no other way

life must feed life

as the tapestry of life
unfolded over eons
earth held the grief

she marked
her shroud
to remember
each being
that lived and died

her grief an acknowledgement
and celebration
of each of her children’s lives

. . . . .

but as the ages passed
her heart wished
to share
the joy of her
beautiful creation

for her shroud
—  had become heavy

(grief is hard even for the body of the earth)

she envisioned
a being
who could stand
shoulder to shoulder
with her as
she held her grief

she envisioned
a being
who could create
and ceremony

to ensure they would
remember how

to hold the grief
and the joy

was envisioned into being

human beings
—  were stitched
—  into the tapestry of life

for thousands of generations
human beings
stood with the joy
and with the grief

to be holding
this sacred obligation

. . . . .

but human beings
are not immortal

we are only but one
—  ephemeral stitch
—  in the tapestry of life

we knowingly
face our own death
as well of the death of
those we love

. . . . .

living upon
an ever-changing earth
is not easy

when earth
growing pains
as she often does:

—  drought
—  storms
—  earthquake
—  flood
—  plague

our ancestors faced
more loss
than they could hold

the grief felt impossible
it seemed
too hard

they railed against the earth
for making life so hard

they forgot to
celebrate the joy

they forgot how
to hold the grief

. . . . .

as we forgot

we sought control
over earth’s ways

we sought a life
of separation

a life of grieflessness

and now

loss surrounds us
as earth’s tapestry
falls apart

and we
have forgotten how
to grieve

the earth is abandoned
her wounds are deep
her sorrow is wide
she weeps in pain
and sadness

all her children are in pain

her human children
have forgotten

she cries

—  —  she calls

—  — — —  she shakes

—  —  — — — —  she howls

. . . . .

she knows

she will be heard


she knows

we will
hear her calling


she knows

we (still) love her


and that
we will remember

© Greer Taylor | November 2023