Mother by
(27 Stories)

Prompted By Earth Day

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/ Stories


Once a Native American man

told me that if you

lie face down 

with head pointed north

and feet pointed south

the earth mother

would accept any grief 

in your heart

                      cleansing you, freeing 



So at a point

when grief was

a tight fist 

in my chest

and every sigh

only seemed to deepen 

the grasp of sorrow

and force the arrow

of suffering,

further and further

                         into my withering


I lay down with 

my face in the summer-dry

redwood duff, 

let the fragrance seep past my 

nose stuffed with the tears

that dripped from my chin,

                               felt my heart


to the silent hum of

the world

while birds and insects

added their 

unique voices to a choir

of liquid staccato forest noises;

the ground both received 

and rejected

                   my bones and body’s


And sure enough,

she opened her womb

accepted seeds of

fear, shame, weariness, sadness

                the pressure eased- 



I offered an exchange, some

of my sufferings for hers

only suddenly knowing that

her pain was too great for 

me to hold;

her suffering was not


                  by the little ones

                                she holds.


Profile photo of January Handl January Handl

Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    Very powerful poem, January, thanks for sharing it with us! You are able to convey so much with your poetry, and it adds immeasurably to Retrospect!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Beautiful tribute to mother earth. Wish we had cared for her with as much tenderness as she cared for us.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your poetry is always moving, January. This speaks to sorrow and loss in ways that our essays cannot cover. Thank you for your addition.

  4. Marian says:

    Lovely poem, January. It reminds me, in all good ways, of Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things.

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