This seems a good poem for the end of one year and the start of the next.
Reaching Back from Here, from Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood
Reaching back from here
All that I remember of my life
Are the great round rocks and not
The unimportant stones.
I know that I experienced pain and yet
The scars have healed so that
I am like the tree covering itself
With new growth every year.
I know that I walked in sadness and yet
All that I remember now
Is the soothing autumn light.
I know that there was much to make my life unhappy
If I had stopped to notice how
The world sings a broken song.
But I preferred to dwell within
A universe of fields and streams
Which echoed the wholeness of my song.
Look upward some evening in December, the month of the longest starry nights.
Ten Million Stars, from Spirit Walker, Doubleday, 1993, by Nancy Wood
Inside each raindrop swims the sun.
Inside each flower breathes the moon.
Inside me dwell ten million stars,
One for each of my ancestors:
The elk, the raven, the mouse, the man,
The flower; the coyote, the lion, the fish.
Ten million different stars am I,
But only one spirit, connecting all.
Nancy wrote this poem around 1971, after her second marriage had crumbled and she was a single mother with four children and a writer's income.
When Trouble Comes to Me, from Hollering Sun, 1972, by Nancy Wood
When trouble comes to me
I have to go and dance.
I dance until the dust receives my trouble.
The dust takes my trouble to the mountain.
The mountain grows with the dust of trouble.
The place for my trouble to be.
Dave, Nancy's boyfriend from her later years, says she visits him as a presence or spirit. He keeps this poem near as words of those times past and present.
Old Woman, from Many Winters, 1974, by Nancy Wood
It is you.
It was you even when
I did not see you except
In the eyes of my spirit.
With you I saw
The dead log giving life
And the mid-winter stream
Rippling up for spring and
The mountains a long way off
Telling us of beginnings.
With you I knew
The peace of high places
And the meaning of a flower
Curled up against the wind
Or leaning toward the sun.
In small things always
There was you as if
All nature contained your thoughts and so
I learned from rocks and rainbows
Tall trees and butterflies.
There was you in the eagle
Flying free and lonely
And in the eyes of a deer
I saw once in an untamed place.
There is you in all good things
That awaken me and say
My life was richer, fuller
Because you lived with me.
Nancy's best friend, John Eastham, passed away this month. Some of his last words were, "I have had such a wonderful life." John was a sunbeam for all who knew him.
Gathering Sunbeams, from Dancing Moons, Delacorte Press, 1995, by Nancy Wood
The way to gather sunbeams is carefully, making sure
they do not break or become
mere shadows of your uncertainty.
The way to gather sunbeams is hopefully, bending
to catch the light between your fingers
before storm clouds devour opportunity.
The way to gather sunbeams is crazily, putting
them in your pocket if you catch any,
laughing at their feeling of mobility.
The way to gather sunbeams is joyfully, keeping
step with the dance they do across the earth,
drawing you into their world of fragility.