I want my words to be loyal to the earth

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Poem by Ryan Van Lenning

a celebration
like the spots on a fawn
prancing through new pine
or a new dawn dancing past the night

I want my words to be as soft as a bunny’s butt
and feather grass
smooth as madrone skin
a woman’s inner thigh

Yet also, I want them to be as hard
as wild walnuts
tough as granite breaking feet
and egos
deadly serious like a lightning strike splitting spruce
climate chaos
carrying away the normal
on waves beyond control
as prickly as a yellow jacket
or poison oak,
that’ll leave you itching for weeks

Words that wake you up
like a cold splash of mountain creek
on your morning face

I want them to lead you gently
into the arms of your DreamGiver
an owl’s serenade under dark skies

But also to startle the rut mind
like a buck launching from the brush
or a bright red snow plant
popping up among the ice cups
in the fir forest,
an eager invitation to spring
a surprise double rainbow
after thunder storms

I want my words to be stained purple
from picking wild blackberries
and juicy plums in June,
Or sexy like a peach rose opening
and borage bringing all the bees to the yard

I want them to allow the wind to blow through
its invisible currents carrying secret scents
tickling the hair on your forearms

above all, I want them to grow from the soil,
telling truth,
loyal to the earth



Ryan Van Lenning is a poet and certified ecotherapist and wilderness guide living in the redwoods of Oakland, CA. He is co-founder of
Wild Nature Heart, leading soul-rooted nature journeys and creativity workshops. A long-time environmental activist, he was part of the 2016 on-the-ground campaign to ban fracking in Monterey County. He is currently working on publishing his first book of poetry called Mud, Stars, and Other Memories.

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