by alana garrigues
i thought to be an artist…
i had to go big.
i thought to be a writer…
i had to go long.
but what if i am not big?
what if i am not long?
i am small and intricate,
to know me
is to wade into
the lapping details
of season and time.
by alana garrigues
i have not yet met
the me of tomorrow,
the one who has collected and
synthesized the thoughts of
the me of today,
as i have done for
the me of yesterday,
and i wonder … sometimes i wonder
about the became and the becoming
and the to become
and marvel at it all
what a great mystery to watch unfold
in real time.
by alana garrigues
manzanita, oregon | september 2021
one large black ant
a bodybuilder, surely,
each bump of its body
-head, thorax, abdomen-
the size of a ripe huckleberry
to the salted sea.
it has nearly reached tide’s edge,
stepping thousands of tiny steps by now, from
the sea grasses, or the blackberry vines, or the pines across the road,
over the dunes and a quarter mile of dry sand,
to arrive here.
no small feat, even for a bodybuilder.
i stop and wonder why,
gazing at it for ten minutes or more,
taking one long stride for every hundred or so it takes.
i can’t help but watch its journey,
protectively standing near as other humans pass, not noticing.
it would break my hard to watch them quash it with a shoe before it arrives,
wherever it is trying to arrive.
it can’t possibly drink the water.
it can’t possibly swim.
yet drawn to the wet,
the reflected sky,
however that must look from down so low
it marches on.
a small wave washes in.
knee deep for the ant, the water tosses its body around once
so it is facing the shore, and for a moment, i hope
it will return, i hope
it will take the water as a sign that it has come far enough.
the water recedes,
and the ant sinks on land, pulled into the wet sand that slurps
at human ankles, drowned to its midriff.
undeterred, it makes a few wide lunges, pulls itself up and out of the muck,
and turns back toward the water
the biggest labeled body in the world, the pacific.
the sand has dried just enough that its top layer is crust now,
and the bodybuilder walks.
it pauses a moment to look south,
body parallel now to the tide, ocean to its right, dry land to its left,
and i crouch down to take a picture,
to mark its presence, its existence, its blind courage.
as i do, i ask it, aloud
“did you read the awakening? is that what this is?”
when i stand, a wave rushes in, mid-calf for me, and i retreat.
once the undertow finishes its work, sucking the salty licks back to
ocean mother’s body, i return, hoping for a miracle,
but it is gone, and my own walk is calling me home.
About My Process
I write poetry in the tradition and path of those who write from nature. Human nature, the natural world, movement, and time all heavily inform my practice.
I love to write in a way that is easily accessible. By welcoming you straight into the poem, often with a narrative voice, there is no need to tiptoe into an interpretive dance with the words. Which is not to say that its meaning is immediately clear. Even within myself, I find a new meaning with each reading of my own words. I thought for a long time that I was writing about nature observed, before realizing that all of it was also a complex, layered metaphor for what was happening internally.
I see out in the world what I need to see within myself. I capture the words and stories that reflect my own life. And at the same time, I connect my story to the story of existence, the story of the world, the story of oneness. I uncover the web of interconnectedness not only in the act of writing, but in the act of later reading what I’ve written.
This is what I love of poetry.
I came into it thinking I was playing with words, experimenting. I came into it thinking I was loosening my grip on story.
What I found was that I wasn’t only experimenting or playing… I was tuning into the words whispered on the wind, capturing them whole, with sound and breath. I wasn’t only loosening story arc… I was finding other places, other ways that story exists outside of the paradigm I once knew.
This is poetry for me. A listening and a release. A knowing and an unknowing. An intuitive paradigm. A time to play.
The three poems here for you to read and consider are accompanied by artwork and photography of my lens and hands. I thank you for your eyes.