Bearing Witness

My last blog was written in a state of grief and anger. I was distraught about the hydro schemes being approved in Glen Kinglass. Although I am very pro hydro power, my whole being is insulted by this scheme in this place. A lot has passed since then. I have met climate change grief in new ways on Iona, with Roselle Angwin on her Islands of the Heart retreat, and on Lismore with Em Strang on her Embodied Poetry course. I’ve written a lot. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve done a fair bit of thinking along the way. I've seen that anger is perhaps not the most powerful choice in this moment. I want to bear witness to how the landscape and wildlife will respond, and in time heal, or not. I want to listen and learn and watch and feel. I want to take note and to take heart. I want to delve into positive imaginings, perhaps the fiercest act of resistance I can do.  I was recently gifted these words by the artist and poet Alec Finlay ‘ when something difficult is happening in a place, respond positively, show the world that there is a community that cares.’ 

Here is a poem about Willow, the tree for April 15th to May 12th in the Celtic Ogham Calendar. Willow symbolises the emotional and dreaming life, flexibility, and wisdom gained from adversity. 




I felt the tree before I found it.


I felt it when I was lying down in the Shepherd’s Bothy near to where the burn of the split stone meets the river Kinglass. I felt something growing my body to water-plaited grace. A root-song of purr and stretch, bloom of spinal twist, flesh breathing water from bone, limbs longing towards their utmost potential. Of course it was sexual.


All this beneath the rakery of a hooded crow on a tarred tin roof. 


When I found the tree Eurythmics' Here Comes the Rain Again was rilling through my head. The lyrics surprised me in the burn-bedded sunshine. As did the willow tree, the way it took me by the scruff and shook me loose, the way I was shown things: like how when you’ve stood so many storms your flowers blow sooner; how one being can have this many beginnings; how bared roots untangle a day, a life; how hopes are held in the willow’s palm; how much is said between sage velveteen tongues; how circles of resistance pool under lichen. Mostly I saw that this tree was a dream coming at me from the boulderous banks.