Sacred Journey II: A Wilderness Celebration

Alan Drengson, 1977, LightStar Press, Victoria BC

Night Thunder
Insects in the Sun
Seven Bears
Harmony of the Whole

Night Thunder

Evening Venus, glowing light,

Polaris flickers red, blue, white.

Night time crickets, meadow fragrance,

reach toward the over-arching sky.

The moon is warm

in the meadow silence,

high above the darkened valleys

amidst a sea of mountain quiet.

The evening stillness

is hushed with sound;

within the flow of firelight

the tones of whispered dialogue.

Campfire circle talk,

spoken words throughout the night.

Community of friends with heads together

sharing memories and waking dreams

of other times and other spaces

and far-off mountains in other places.

Creating mountain tours

and climbing distant summits,

following ridges in the sky

across a floor of clouds.

A night of everlasting peace

and calm within me ever on,

a quiet place where I return

amidst the pauses in my days.

There have been other nights

that lacked this calm majesty,

whose spider-woven ways

threatened my life, my sanity.

There were those nights when

I attacked my sleep with stones

I hurled upon the stars

that watched my restless wakeful hours.

Through these stormy nights

I stoned my sleep with stars

and lay awake to hear

a thunderous silence

echoed through a never ending space

without a turn or corridor

a wall, or solid place to rest.

I waited for some sign

by a crippled tree of dusk,

a faint echo from on high, perhaps,

But I heard nothing,

except my own self, grieving.

A beaver kit, alone and lost,

separated from its family

crying in the stillness of his own home pond.

A whimpering voice of infinite resignation

that pierced me through to bone.

It was a sigh from

those past nights.

Both ecstasy and fever lay

in those tangled sleepless ways.

But, oh, to be excited by

cold stones, cold stars…

beyond glaciers

in the vast celestial spinning

of galaxy and sun,

to be where centers of glittering

mist-luminous stellar scatterings trail.

The cosmic swath of the Milky Way on edge

becomes a mandala before my eyes.

There my heart knows rest.

And these nights pass;

the joyful and awake

the restless and the sleepless too.

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Insects in the Sun

It was a summer dusty afternoon

twenty gravel miles from the highway.

We parked beside a battered bus

and did our final packing.

Tightening our boots and hoisting loads

and up the trail we went,

walking slowly, tramp-step, tramp-step,

looking for the magic pace.

Through Douglas forests of fir

and grassy older glades,

we unwound our way from civilization.

There were times as we passed

through the darkened woods

when we had a moment of fear—

as if some dark thing

hung over our heads

and watched every step for a fall. But…

Our thoughts could stay

with nothing for long

for we were caught

by each colorful throng of paintbrush,

columbine, and shootingstar.

In the high meadows, with heather and bees

we ambled along, entranced,

and then dropped down the ridge to Hagen Lakes.

That night the lakes became the Milky Way,

and the splash of water falling from the cliffs

became our protective spirit.

In the morning the sun climbed

Mt. Stone’s back side.

We watched the sky turn indelible,

and flights of silver ships

streaked through the endless blue.

What wonder had we witnessed?

These objects from the other side

we saw as the day grew lighter,

were insects flying in the sun.

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Seven Bears

High rock gardens,

mountain meadow lawns,

grand Zen boulders catch the setting sun.

We three camp on a ridge of Cat Peak.

We melt our supper snow

as the alpine glow illuminates

our end of day repair.

The bears come out to see Mt. Carrie

above Boston Charlie’s pond.

First one bear,

and then two more:

Three bears are feeding,

and then a grizzled four,

slowing turning stones,

digging underneath,

looking for ants, spring’s diet relief.

We think the bears are migrating

when the seventh one appears.

Large coat of horsetail fur

ripples when they move.

The black brown seems a perfect round

in the middle of the green.

The sheer power of the Bruins

sends shivers up my spine.

Watch them moving slowly,

Tai Chi child;

this bear is anchored to the world;

his center’s always low.

When we look again

they’ve all disappeared.

“I wonder where they went.”

“Are they coming in our direction?”

Our adrenalin starts to flow;

but we see them, on this trip,

not ever again,

no, not ever again.

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Harmony of the Whole

Camped in a hollow on the way to Quinault

in a rustic shelter beside the trail,

We cook soup and philosophize,

diagnose the clouds drifting by.

A small stream weaves a magic chant.

Frogs croak behind the old outhouse.

The fire dies down,

and a settled sleepy calm

tugs on our eyelids.

One goes strolling before padding out.

From the woods we hear a startled cry,

“Toads! Toads! Millions of toads!

We are being overwhelmed

by a toad invasion!”

We shine our Mallories,

and in the light that spreads

we see the ground alive and moving.

We see the eyes in their heads

as they hop all around us

and move toward the shelter.

We take to the top bunks

and half awake, we wonder

at the wonder of this hasty operation.

Is it mating season,

or a pilgrimage to the river?

They croak in unison with the moon’s early rising.

Their voices slice through the night time veil,

and we are transported

from the darkness to the sky above.

Their sounds sew the night and forest;

meadow and peak

all become their chorus;

dual semi-tones in an octave complete,

the harmony of the whole.

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