Cortes Island, traditional land of the Klahoose, the Tla’amin, and Homalco People
Without a thought I remove my shoes
as if entering a stranger’s home, and disappear
beneath the bell-sleeved shadows of fir and spruce.
Spun by the trees for hundreds of years,
this trampolined floor of moss and needle sinks beneath
each footstep, springs back as I walk. When time
winds down and vanishes, doorways hang in the heat-haze
at the edge of visibility—catch the flame
of a nonhuman eye, then gone again. And for a moment
I’m visiting the forests of Sheffield with my grandmother,
eons of ash and oak, mushrooms laddering trunks,
ostrich ferns and tiny lichen goblets for faery wine,
the shade of her voice. I step through a veil
of sunlight between two bowed hawthorns
back onto the island—a moss-lined knoll
shadows the bay, purple starfish jewel the shore.
The knees of huge cedars carve nooks
in the hummock, and although I feel welcome,
could curl among root and web and sleep with ease,
this is not home, and I will never be home.
Kyeren Regehr has two award-nominated/-winning books of poetry.
Questions and Answers
How/where do you find inspiration today?
What’s alive inspires both my writing and my life—the natural world, music and other art, spirituality, human emotion . . . The word inspiration comes from the action of breathing in (obviously); to fill oneself up with life. It’s too easy to fill ourselves up from the vast deadzone of the consumer culture, which is sedating and utterly uninspiring. Writing often comes from a place of trying to understand/unravel what doesn’t make sense, or from something that sparks my curiosity. A curious person is easily inspired.
What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?
I’m presently working on a collection that explores human connection to the Earth through genetic heritage and homeland, and the loss of that connection through dislocation—Grandmother Grove is from this manuscript. It was inspired by a barefoot walk through a forest of the same name—the experience was so exquisitely beautiful, that it remains almost tangible. I tried to write about it for years, but it wasn’t until I drew in the forests of my maternal grandmother that I found the poem.