seeking peace in the wild things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be ...

... I don't go out to seek peace amongst the wild things. For they have fled to secret places, far away places where trees may still grow unfettered and the waters are unswum. Those who remain, the monarch butterflies and diminishing tribes of sparrows and the broken-winged swans, remind me of all that is gone. They do not seem untaxed; they seem worried, and desperate, and altogether too lonely in the once-wild world.

There seems little natural grace where I live. Even the tameless sea is full of leeches and jellyfish and poisoned fish. Even the wind is bent out of song by too many houses and concrete towers and long straight roads. Even the stars, which you'd think are the wildest thing of all, have been named and charted and stared at close-up until their glorious wanton brilliance has turned to catalogued light.

To come into the peace of the wild, I must go deeper inside myself, and plunge my hands and heart into the night-dark. I must remember the uncouth, languageless souls of all the old stories ... and I must remember the unlived places I have driven past ... and the sullen silence of an old white mountain I've stood beneath ... and the ache of space between me and the moon ... and the weight of the hills where I grew up. I must call upon the smoke-voiced grandmother who sits beyond those unwilded stars and tosses bones, charms, riddles, loveknots, into the world.

I must close my eyes and dream the freedom of peace, of wild.

(With apologies to Wendell Berry)


  1. i can feel this too, this great, formless pain of all that is bent out of right shape, or lost, or going away.
    this wrongness in the world that was/should be right. we have kicked all the covers out of our cradle, turned our backs upon the parents who gave us life and upon our siblings who helped make us who we were (and are, though that is none of their fault)...i say we, but it's a species we, and some more than others even so.
    still, we all bear the loss; although not always named or articulated, it is there in us all, eating away at the soul and denying us comfort.

    and your idea---that what was wild out there is only to be found inside now, in the memory of wildness and all it meant---can we, perhaps, if we are very, very dedicated and very, very strong (or soft?)---can we bring it back?

    in tales, it is always so...the eleventh hour transformation that saves the heroine, the kingdom, the innocent accused...the silent princess throws the nettle shirts, wrought with her stung fingers and stained with her tears, over the swan brothers even as the fire is lit about her feet, and their true selves return, and all is well again.

    can we find the map home in our remembering hearts?

    1. "can we bring it back?"

      Yes, I think we can. Evegeny Vodolazkin has made a suggestion of how it might happen in his beautiful, ground breaking novel, Laurus. Michael Kirke has written an excellent review (including thoughts from Vodolazkin). It is in two parts, so when you get to the end of the first post, click on Part II: "Modernity Laid Bare I and II"--

  2. This is how it seems to me living in town - concrete and cars and noise and stars nearly invisible in the light polluted sky. The wild things I see behind my house seem almost domestic, though I want to believe otherwise. The true wild is so far away. . . . . .

  3. so good to know that the wild
    and the peace
    continue on
    i had a pair of geese in my ponds today
    life felt right
    and in balance as i watched them
    lovely post