Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Love Song to Clayoquot Sound

Hello, my toad-ally awesome friends!  The amazing and talented Shawnacy has issued me, Sherry Blue Sky, a personal challenge (ack!) to write about the longing for, or absence, or finding  of Home . This is a topic I have lived, intensely, so I accepted. Here is how Shawnacy described the challenge. Her words are far more poetic than mine, so I put them here for your enjoyment and possible inspiration.

Shawnacy: “I've been doing a lot of thinking recently around the topic of 'Home' and specifically the way that we find 'Home' in unexpected places, and how the 'Home' we crave and long for is so seldom the same as the 'Home' we experienced in our past. 
There's a word the Germans have for this feeling (the Germans are phenomenal with words) - Sehnsucht - (wikipedia article here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sehnsucht ) that describes a kind of a nameless longing, a nostalgia for something we've never had before. C.S. Lewis wrote extensively about it, in passages like this one: 
             “[it is] the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."
And again,
"All the things that have deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it -- tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest -- if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself -- you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say 'Here at last is the thing I was made for.' We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want . . . which we shall still desire on our deathbeds.”
It is a feeling of an almost objectless nostalgia so deep and abiding that we cannot express it save through a physical and psychic ache that is as much a sense of loss as it is a response to a call we can almost, but not-quite, hear. It is the swelling of our inmost soul at the moment the sun slips behind the horizon. It is the breath caught in our throat when we are struck at the right moment by a particular progression of guitar chords. These things resonate within us with a profound feeling of Home
Your challenge: tell me of 'Home' “
Okay. Deep breath. Here we go:
***   ***   ***   ***   ***
Oh, wild, untamed and glorious 
coastal beaches
of  Clayoquot Sound,
you sang a siren song to me
for years before I journeyed there,
long before I ever saw
the perfection of
your beauty.

Trapped inland, like a beached whale,
I never stopped yearning
for the sight and the sound
and the smell
of your wild shores.

The ache of longing never dimmed,
throbbing like a sore tooth
in the center of my being.
I felt the pull,
I heard your call
that could not be ignored.
Your ley lines
drew me to you
as surely as a  murrulet
is drawn to its nest,
a migrant whale
to its feeding ground.
Then, one day, it was Time
to either make the leap
onto  your unknown  shores,
or set the dream aside.
And I knew I couldn’t live
without a dream.

When I rounded the corner,
that first night,
at Long Beach,
a huge red fiery orb was going down
behind the hills.
My heart rose to meet it
like a lover,
just now waking
after far too long a sleep.

I pulled into my cabin on the beach,
stood on the deck and breathed it in:
waves galloping in to shore
like white-maned horses,
sun slipping down beneath the sea
like a blessing
on everything beautiful.

In the curving bay,
a small whale surfaced,
to tell me that my lifelong dream
had at last come true.
In that moment, the questing,
seeking voice within
was stilled,
for, at  long last,
after such a long journey,
I was Home.

My spirit lifted like a soaring bird
set free from its cage.
Joyously riding your air currents,
windsurfing the sky,
I flew higher than
I’d ever flown
there, on your wild shores,

where my spirit
came into its own.

My eyes drank in your beauty
so many misty, fog-shrouded mornings,
Meares Island wreathed in cloud,
tall spires poking through,
or its hillsides blushing rose
late afternoons,
like a matron
surprised at her toilette.

They gazed on
thousand-year-old cedar,
on eagle and  raven,
on herons picky-toeing their way
along the mudflats,
on seabirds wheeling free
over shining waters.
I carry the memory
of seaspray damp against my face,
the smell of seaweed and plankton,
the feel of the packed wet sand
I remember
the roar of the waves
against the dunes
out front,
the crackle of the wood stove,
the winter wind and rain
lashing the cabin walls
at midnight,
and the mooing of the foghorn
at Lennard’s Light.

I remember mornings
after the storm had passed,
stepping onto the beach

to see what wind and water
had drawn upon the shore.

Joy, unparalleled, was mine,
those ten glorious,
never-to-be-repeated years.

Is it worse to find and lose Home,
or never to have found it?

When I had to leave,
missing you came
to live inside me
like a second pulse.
Inland, once again,
one hour and another world away
from everything I love,
I am once more Making Do
with so much less
than all of my longing.
But losing is the other side of having,
sorrow the price we pay for joy
and worth the cost.
Now those years live
within my heart. They live,
like the siren song of the sea,
like the cry of the gull,
like the sound of my beloved waves,
forever advancing and retreating
in my heart.

Now Clayoquot Sound inhabits me,
as once I inhabited the Sound.
Love for your wild beauty never stops
singing inside me.
I carry that song within
like a gleaming treasure,
like a song of love,
whose refrain reminds me
that none of this is ours to keep.
We are all, always,
only passing through.

Sometimes, at dusk, now,
I see faint color
behind the hills
which ring this gray little valley,
that lets me know I am missing
yet another spectacular sunset
at the beach.

On those nights,
my eyes turn towards
the west.
I yearn. I long.
I remember all those sunsets
that once were mine.

As the world turns
from burnished gold,
fading soft to sunset,
and the coloured remnants streak
across the evening sky,
I look to the mountaintops.
Behind them,
on the West Coast,
glorious sunsets are unfolding,
these richly coloured evenings.
On tiptoe,
I can almost
see them shining.

I had already written my Love Song to Clayoquot Sound in prose form some time ago.
The prose version can be found by clicking on the above link, for  anyone interested in reading the story of the amazing midlife journey I took all through the ‘90’s, when I made a huge leap to the home of my spirit, Tofino, on the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. You may enjoy the story of my ten years there, through the time of the Peace Camp and the blockades – the most alive, joyous and fulfilling years of my life. I stole some lines from that piece for this poem, because they came straight from my heart and could not be improved upon. I had not thought to write this as a poem before. So thank you, Shawnacy!
[The prose version of Love Song to Clayoquot Sound was included in the anthology Writing the West Coast: In Love with Place, a topic dear to my heart. All of the photos were taken by me, other than the one with me in it:) You can see why I am so in love with the place.]


Kerry O'Connor said...

It is for moments like this that I am dedicated mind and soul to this project of ours. This entire post, from Shawnacy's initial inspirational words and your overwhelmingly heartfelt response is so uplifting. As I read your words, I felt that self-same, unnameable longing for my heart's resting place, still out there and yet to be recognized. There are so many lines which have touched me, with the intensity of the human spirit in the act of creating something memorable.

Thanks to you both.

Scarlet said...

I love the prompt and your amazing and emotional response from your heart. The pictures are indeed spectacular, and may I say it reminds me of my native home's sunset and beaches.

You captured the nature's wild call in your words, and thanks fo sharing your amazing journey with us.

Maude Lynn said...

That is a truly incredible piece.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Wow......just, really.......wow...............

Margaret said...

"Now Clayoquot Sound inhabits me,
as once I inhabited the Sound."

This whole lovely love song of a poem is of longing fulfilled and still yearned for. And the line above that I copy and pasted really resonates with me. Sherry Blue was gutsy enough to grasp a dream and live it, fill up with it...

Beautiful photography, beautiful words

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh, thank you, my friends! How lovely to come in and find these responses this morning. I was so fortunate to have had those ten years of living my dream. Those were the glory years.

Kay L. Davies said...

Shawnacy certainly picked the right toad to respond to this personal challenge, Sherry. I'm sure there are few, if any, of us who experienced such a connection and sense of place as you had with the west coast of The Island.
Your love song to the Sound is so beautiful and your longing for it so profound I almost feel like a voyeur, an intruder, reading your heartfelt words.
This is a treasure, this poem you had not thought to write.

Marian said...

most beautiful words and place and woman!
can i just say that these lines are such a pure description of nature:
"its hillsides blushing rose
late afternoons,
like a matron
surprised at her toilette."
sherry, you are spectacular. truly.

Susie Clevenger said...

This is such a beautiful piece speaking of home from Shawnacy's inspiring words to your lovely poem of home Sherry. The photographs show why this place drew you and why it remains in your heart. I don't know if I will ever live there but Jamaica calls my spirit. I have been there twice and each time my spirit weeps I must leave.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, kids.....(blush)......thank you. Susie, yes, you know the feeling.

Lolamouse said...

Your real connection with this special place is so evident in your writing. I could feel it strongly as I read your words. They were beautiful and heartfelt. The photos were amazing! I can see why you loved being there. A wonderful idea for a prompt and a perfect response! You both did a great job!

cosmos cami said...

How lovely!
Chills from the gorgeous and affectionate descriptions you penned here.
So sad that it came to that unexpected end and you had to leave.
Even the word Clayoquot is so poetic.

Mary said...

A beautiful write, Sherry. So many wonderful lines, things to think about. It is obvious to me that you have definitely written about your HOME.

"I carry that song within
like a gleaming treasure,
like a song of love,
whose refrain reminds me
that none of this is ours to keep.
We are all, always,
only passing through."

So very, very true!

Mary Ann Potter said...

Moving and beautiful, made even more so because it's true! This is indeed the pull of home; it's our hearts that respond. I am truly impressed!!!

Anonymous said...

beautiful, Sherry - absolutely beautiful and I'm so glad you included those stunning photos of this wonderful 'home'

Ella said...

Breathtaking, your words brought so many images to mind! Your home is always in your heart and memory~
It made me homesick for my special escape, by the bay. I love how the waves are like white galloping horses. Such beautiful imagery, it was magical and I have to read it again! I loved it~ I love how
Shawnacy opened this challenge, so wonderful to share C.S. Lewis' words~
Just wonderful! Great challenge, great poem~

shawnacy said...

this is glorious. your story... i'm hopping over now to read your prose version.
this especially:
'missing you came
to live inside me
like a second pulse.'
captures the idea of sehnsucht exactly. ... like a second pulse..

beautiful words, divine photo gallery (the SKIES that were yours) and such a vast spirit.

you more than stepped up to this challenge. you carry Clayiquot within your own wonder-wracked spirit. what a treasure this is.

Abin Chakraborty said...

lovely, profound and signature Sherry.I've always said that there's a Wordsworthian quality in her poetry and this again proves that.It's a privilege to be in such elevated company.
Keep Writing dar Sherry.It's inspiring.

I have been far from blogs, computer and poetry and hence the delay.here's to more of such wonderful poems.Cheers!