my relationship to earth

Happy Earth Day, friends!

Wendell Berry’s poetry blessed the opening of our writing circle this week.  Then, the ‘inside’ women wrote about their relationships to earth, to circles, and to growing trees.

Here’s a lovely piece in which one writer recalled an ‘a-ha moment’ in a pine forest:

As I walk through these woods, I first think I am alone. Yet, there is so much I see and hear all at once.  I take a couple of steps back, feeling as if I have invaded a secret place, a special place. I look up and see the sunlight breaking through the dense pine trees, splashing rays of light at my feet. I look to my left and see a shallow stream flowing over smooth rocks. ..the wind gently blowing and swaying pine boughs. I wonder, do I dare walk over to that fallen tree and take a seat? I try to be silent in my steps, to go and sit peacefully. I close my eyes as I sit, and I can smell the pine. I can hear the stream moving along. As I open my eyes, I realize I am not trespassing on someone else’s woods.  I am part of this special place. I know my heart beats like the pulsing of these woods.

healing power of nature

Linda Keagle

Linda Keagle

The outside yard at Chittenden Correctional Facility is very small in comparison to the acres of land that Vermont’s incarcerated women used to walk (and garden) at the Swanton prison up north.  The women are allowed outside three times per week.

After a recent visit to the yard, one of our writinginsideVT participants penned the poem below.  ED’s piece demonstrates the healing power of the natural world for these women residing in a facility devoid of color and beauty, as well as connects them to a vision of more hopeful days beyond the razor wire.

Loveliness in Nature

The ground beneath my feet –
moist earth clinging to my shoes,
to be outside is quite a treat,
what a way to shake the blues.

Sunshine beating down on me
leaving me tanned in its glow,
it’s my favorite place to be,
better than any other that I know.

A hawk circles gracefully
beneath the puffy clouds –
it glides along so easily
without ever making a sound.

I stop to admire a butterfly
on the razor wire,
then it softly flutters by,
going effortlessly higher.

The splendors of nature
are there for all to enjoy,
beautiful things that endure,
on display for every girl and boy.

There’s a loveliness to be found,
even in this awful place
here, in nature, beauty abounds,
despite the tight, cramped space.

It’s now heading for sundown,
so, it’s back to my dark cell –
I can’t help but frown,
going back into that hell.