In this place, we are together and under a canopy of blue, under a canopy of greens. Crows speak to us, and blue jays and geese converse. In this place, my daughter teaches me to sweep my hand at an eagle, not point. Here the children are the children of the sky and the earth and they and the animals are wise and the trees and the waters are also. They are wise and patient and forever.

I walk the woods at dawn. A seam of light on the horizon stretches and glares above the hills beyond the lake. Familiar trails take me beneath it as the line of light spreads up, curls itself around our world and our day. Forest paths lead me beneath shade and my arms prickle and then I am back into the sun again like a promise. Things may grow dark with shadows, but the light will return, always. The children and the animals know this and the trees teach me how simple it is.

Below the hill, within the town, birds cry at the edges. Gulls speak to geese. Robin song mingles with people chattering. People dressed in colors like the sky and the woods, like the flowers blooming by the roadsides and in the ditches. A woman’s long dress billows, it is a canvas. She is art and beauty and life.

Buildings here are brownstone and blend together, pulled from the earth and set above it, block by block. Cookies and cakes emerge from doorways beneath smiling faces. Faces with beautiful wrinkles and faces with lovely smooth cheeks and slender hands brushing wisps of hair from brows of both. Street turns to dirt and the path leads me through the grasses to the water. Sailboats dot the blue and the wind pushes them and the sun smiles at them and that is all that matters.

My Northland. I think I could walk all day. I think I will.

The needful things have been done:

Sugar in the cupboard, honey, sweet

bacon in the smokehouse; buckles

done up, pines felled by lightning

shored against the flood bank.

Nothing to do now but wait.

Hilda Raz

From ‘Small Shelter’

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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