I went to hear Joy Harjo perform and read her poetry Friday night. My friend Thandiwe Shiprah has been dreaming of bringing her to Nashville for years, and finally managed to get the art grant money to get it done. I did have a moment of disorientation when I walked in and found out it wasn't free like a Facebook friend had said, but since I was already there in the beautiful new space of the W. O Smith Community Music School, I decided to spring for it.
Some of the lines of her poetry struck me like blows to the chest or hammers suddenly released from their moorings to ping inside my skull. One line in particular that stuck with me talked about drops of blood falling to the earth and springing up into daughters, sons, and trees. As someone on the cusp of making babies and obsessed with getting to the woods, it really resonated with me. That is exactly how I feel about life. The trees are as close to me as children, and the longing I have for them in my life is very similar to the longing I have for kids. I have also seen my partner mourn a beloved shade tree that fell in a storm, and I understood completely.
What I long for, really, is to be in full intimacy with the lives of my children and the land. I yearn to be in long term relationships with trees, to get to know kids and trees and earth as they grow ever closer to being their fullest selves, to protect the womb, the soil, from whence they come, and to nourish them with nutrients and love even as they enrich my life.
It is the same hunger, the same bone-deep longing, but until I heard that line in that poem, I had not realized. I had not seen that my yearning for land and my yearning for children are at their heart the same yearning for family of my own.