Reciprocity Suite

380 total words    

2 minutes of reading

The Body’s Question 

Skin to skin speaks its own language—
the clavicle hinge to the wings
of the scapula, hollow above the humerus,
valley of the hip to waist, distance
of hand to foot, the curve of belly,
the juts of pelvic bone—all this
sliding away as we touch, the body
an old tent sagging toward earth.

Where will we travel returning to dust?
Will we be recombinant as Calypso orchids,
our pink throats speechless with wonder?
Will we grow fins and meet again
in the spawning ground,
or wing to wing as albatross, fly
thousands of miles to the Beaufort Sea?
Will we remember our days in the garden?
Will we understand at last the purpose
of our separate skin?

What Wants To Be Known

If a thing wants to be known
it will smoke in
between the jamb and the door
like a spirit, or the way water
flows even uphill
if there’s down on the other side.

At the rim of the woods, moss
is a silver sheen like sand
where a wave just was,
a margin between meadow
and trees. The moss calls you
with its bright coat. Come in!

You cross that boundary
like crossing a line of ashes
between the living and the dead.
Then you’re inside looking out.
You join the generations—
primordial, wary, waiting.

If a thing wants to be known
it will come to you then.


The bees fall
into the throats
of a thousand flowers
in an ecstasy
of nectar drunk.
I have here
stolen sweet
by teaspoon
a thousand flowers
in my cup of tea.

Dark Stones

We go down
into the deep water
of the unknown self
to find the underside
slick with mud
fists clenched around
small stones
that glow in the dark.


Let my heart be a sunrise
bravely beginning  
the morning.
Let my heart be a river
traveling ever home
to the sea.
Let it carry my praise to all creatures.
Let me sing praises
for the gifts of rain
and sun-warmed seeds
that nourish all I love.
Let my prayers of gratitude fly up
in all seasons.
Let them rise
with the smoke from my winter hearth.
Let them rise
with the wings of the wren and the sparrow
in spring time
and the songs of the coyotes joyous
with summer hunting.
May I carry my own dark stones,
call them by name
and blame no one.
May the wisdom of ancestors
guide my thoughts and my hands.
May their wisdom guide my feet.
May I walk the path of kindness.
May all beings be safe
in the world’s ever-becoming.

Image by Cathie Bird “Calypso Orchid Group” (CC by 2.0)

  • Elizabeth Carothers Herron

    Elizabeth Carothers Herron, author and educator, writes poetry and articles on art and ecology, the role of art in society, and the importance of natural systems and biodiversity in the physical and spiritual well-being of individuals, communities, and the planet.

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