Saturday, July 11, 2015

Turtle Island deja vue

Following up on yesterday's posting, I'm very happy to report that today's southbound road trip on the township road yielded no sign of a squished Blanding's turtle. I assume that means that he or she is back in the nearby pond. Because so far this year I've seen few turtles and even fewer snakes on the neighborhood's roads, yesterday's sighting was a real treat.

Blanding's turtle sunning on township road
Blanding's turtle sunning on township road
Photo by J. Harrington

For obvious reasons, it put me in mind of Gary Snyder's 1975 Pulitzer prize winning book of poetry and essays, Turtle Island. The location where this turtle was photographed happens to be near the border of the Dakota/Ojibwe land ceded in 1837. Looking at the domed shell made me think of the Native American Turtle Island creation story. Last, but far from least, although they don't show in the photo, the domed shell shell also contains what look like a number of teeth marks, making me wonder if this particular Blanding's has survived an encounter with a neighborhood dog or coyote. It was all enough to remind me of the turtle hunts I undertook in turtle haunts along stream banks in southeastern Massachusetts, when I was a youthful explorer of country as undomesticated as I could reach on my bike and return in time for supper.

The Dance

By Gary Snyder 
Against its will, energy is doing something productive, like the devil in medieval history. The principle is that nature does something against its own will and, by self-entanglement, produces beauty.”
Otto Rössler 
gave birth to rocks, trees, rivers, mountains, grass
and last, a blazing child
          so burned she died.
          In the land of darkness
          a mass of pollution.
          Ah wash her clear stream
          —skinny  little  girl   with   big ears
          we have passed through
                    passed through,     flesh out of flesh.
“Shining Heavens,” Goddess of the Sun,
         her brother flung
                   mud and shit and a half-skinned pony through
                   the palace,
so she entered a cave—shut it up with a rock—
         made the world dark.
Ame-no-uzume, “Outrageous Heavenly Woman,” wrapped
the numinous club-moss of Mr. Kagu round her hips, made
a headband from the leaves of nishikigi, bound bamboo
grass for her wristlets, and put a sounding-board down
before the cave where the Sun Goddess stayed.
     She danced and she stamped til it echoed around, she
danced like a goddess possessed, pulled out her nipples,
pushed her sash down til she showed herself down below,
and the Plain of High Heaven shook with the laughs and
the cheers and the whistles of thousands of gods who were
gathered to watch.
                                                                            Jean Herbert

         The whole river. Clear back to each creeklet
                  all one basin drawing in the threads
         pacing down dry riverbeds the dance,
               mai, stomping, stepping on the gravelly bar
         step, stop, stamp of the foot. Glide and turn,
                  headwaters, mountains,
                           breathing icy bliss
         diamond-glittered bitty snowcreek
         eating the inorganic granite down.
         Trees once cooled the air, and clouds, ah, ghost of
                   springs gone dry. Hills of Yugoslavia clearcut
                             for the Roman fleet
                   —don’t think all that topsoil’s gone
                           it only waits.
         —slept on river sidebars
                  drank from muddy streams
                  grains cooked in rock-flour glacier water,
                  —dirt left on boulders
                  for a sandy heap of years,
         and creeks meander                    just because they swing.
         Stamp of the masked dancer
                  pacing tangled channels
                           putting salt and gold dust in the sea.
         Ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto bound up her sleeves with
         a cord of heavenly hi-kage vine, tied around her head a
         head-band of the heavenly ma-saki vine, bound to-
         gether bundles of sasa leaves to hold in her hands, and
         overturning a bucket before the heavenly rock-cave
         door, stamped resoundingly upon it. Then she became
         divinely possessed, exposed her breasts, and pushed
         her skirt-band down to her genitals.
                                                                             Allan Grapard
         Laughter roared like thunder
                  through the plains of heaven
         and the hidden
                  Goddess of the Sun,
                  peeked out round the rock.
                  All the little faces of the gods gleamed
                           white                                        in the light!
                                       Herbert                    Grapard
Around her head:           nishikigi leaves        masaki vines
In her hands:                                                   sasa
As wristlets:                   bamboo grass
sleeves tied w/:                                                hi-kage vine
around her hips:             club moss
         Ame no uzume.
         What did she wear?
                  What leaves in her hair?
         How far did she push her skirt down?

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Please be kind to each other while you can.