this ancient world

the pulverizing, unrelenting surf far below raven’s wings
is a place where the earth, sky and sea converge
each striving for supremacy, now as at the beginning of the world
the ocean is implacable, runnelled by wind and current, its
waves roiled by streaming breakers falling upon themselves
in trembling echoes of the otherwise silent voice of Creator
the air’s rent with spindrift, ragged clouds frown
on the gloomy face of tatsaogitl, the west wind

at the foam-flecked edge of this creeping pandemonium
a chorus line of shorebirds skitter on matchstick legs;
farther on, oblivious to the flooding, sprawling neap,
greedy raven pulls gray worms from packed sand;
mad petrels dive on stiletto wings to the edge of sorrow
and now, from a mossy stump, grinning, impudent raven
claims exclusive jurisdiction in croaking, raspy notes
in a song as ancient as riverstones, old as grieving

I sit on a fallen forest leviathan now reduced to tidal plaything
the salt air is sharp in my nostrils; breezes snatch at my cap
a light rain forms lucent drops on the shoulders of my jacket
and I shiver, oddly, for I am warm inside my layers
I am in raven’s kingdom, transformer of the world:
from here lies the perfect route to essential reality, to eternity
for it is an ageless world that holds us as we are only for a time

the relationship of human beings to the sublime unity
of wind, water and sky and the life they sustain, is not
only the primary one, but the most intense and urgent one
for it’s here, under a brooding sun smothered in mist
that I am reminded of the great, primal aboriginal teachings:
that the beginning is the end; that nothing is everything

© 2007 Stuart James Whitley. All rights reserved.