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Writing on the Wild Edges: Participant Poems (Tanya Stark Loretto)

This past October we led one of our Writing on the Wild Edges retreats on the beautiful island of Inismor off the coast of Galway. We will be sharing some of the writing which participants gave us permission to share here in the next few weeks. Up next are poems by Tanya Stark Loretto.


The land of Éire has seeped into my being,
Permeating my dreams.
I wander through her paths,
Surrounded by rocks, cliffs, fields, bogs,
A multiplicity of hues- grays, greens, lavenders, and browns.
I wander and wander,
Often not knowing where I am going,
And yet I am not afraid,
To be without a destination,
I am living unknowing,
Because it feels like I am on my way, in some way,
To where I am meant to be,
To my place of resurrection,
Somewhere that I cannot know,
Yet somehow connected to my time in this land of Éire,
This place that permeates my dreams.

Ocean Pondering at Inishmore’s Worm Hole

Sitting on a flat rock
Overlooking the sea
I sit in awe of the ocean’s majesty.

The sea’s rhythmical flowing in a multiplicity of directions,
Shaped by grandmother moon,
Her mysterious currents
Erode and shape all that she touches,

Mists rise as she smashes rocky cliffs-
I can smell the briny air,
And feel her fine droplets on my body,

Sea plants and creatures are held in her ocean being,
She, like a womb, nourishes and carries all within her,

And I am in awe,
Pondering her strength, her being, her witness,
The sea’s presence-
A gift to the earth,
A gift to me.

Inishmore: Island of Sacred Sound

Sitting on a limestone rock overlooking the sea on Inishmore
I listen
And listen.
Accustomed to city noise
All fighting for attention,
Here on Inishmore
I’m given a gift of simple audio.

Wind and bird songs predominate.

Closing my eyes I realize that there is a bird symphony
And I don’t recognize many of the instruments.
No matter, the songs blend into a kaleidoscope of beauty
For my ears,
My being.

Wind is felt and heard, as it moves over the landscape, my body, my implements-
Sound waves and air movements blend into a multisensory experience,
Becoming one with birdsong
And other earth based sounds,
Each one an important part of the divine chorus.

The divine song of Inishmore,
An island of simple audio,
Sacred Sound.

Teachers Beyond Time

Anchorites’ harsh lives –
Beyond my twenty-first century privileged understandings.

Animals, straw, mud, rocks,
Wind, rain, and birds
Are her regular companions
In her simple beehive hut sanctuary.

She calls to me across time as I lay in my soft bed with a full belly:
I hear my beehive anchorite speak simple, basic words of wisdom:
Be open

I humbly receive these words
And ask for her guidance
In leaving my gilded, cluttered, complicated life
For a more simple, beehive like, prayer-filled life.

Grieving on Inishmore
(This poem was written on Inishmore as Tanya was grieving her 24 year old son’s sudden and recent death.)

Walking through my grief on the paths of Inishmore,
I hear the island speak.

I wander from holy place to holy space,
Often losing my way,
But somehow finding exactly where I am meant to be.

As my feet hit the ground, Inishmore’s rocks cry out,
Millennial stone witnesses of suffering and joy
Inviting me to know that they stand with me,
And the others.

The island winds resonate with my inner chaos
And teach me to breathe,
Breathe and flow
Through my grief.

The seabirds on her shores
Give me permission to screech and howl,
Fly and float,
As I need to.

Inishmore’s grasses bowed down from the winds
Speak of bending while living harshness,
Teaching me to surrender,

Her holy wells bubble up from the quiet earth
Inviting me to be open to receiving blessings
At all times and places.

Her creatures are briefly curious to visitors and then return to what is important,
Inviting me to remember what and who are most important,
What and who give me life.

Inishmore’s lovely scent of turf fires,
Tightens my chest,
Calling me to center myself on hearth,

Her rains cry with me,
Raindrops pelting my face, entering my mouth and eyes.
The rain tears enter my body,
Uniting my heart with this beautiful island.

Walking through my grief on the paths of Inishmore
The island speaks wisdom and healing through all that she is,
And I walk in gratitude for the many steps that I have taken
On this beloved, wild, Celtic Island.

Copyright, October, 2017

Tanya Stark Loretto is a spiritual director/companion and retreat facilitator.  She is very curious about how people make meaning in their lives, especially through the arts and other spiritual practices.  She lives with her husband, dog, and several “boomeranging” adult children in Vancouver BC, Canada. Visit her website here>>

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