As part of Spring For Change, I had the distinct privilege of facilitating a five-session discussion series on “Liberation on the Land.” Our small group gathered every two weeks on Zoom, and in between we engaged separately and intentionally with various readings, audio recordings, movies, and the landscapes and plants of our homes. Our cohort represented a wide range of ages, from youth through elders, and within the sanctuary of our Zoom space we nurtured relationships across age and distance, rooted in sharing and embodying our stories about our relationships with particular foods, from berries to beets to beans.
Over the course of our time together, we talked about farming and foraging as different methods of community resourcing of foods, land and labor as sites of power, and seeds and soil as collective creations, ultimately finding our way to dreaming together on what healing and regeneration look like with regards to our collective relationships to land. During each of the three middle sessions, I took notes of words, phrases, and ideas that were shared by the group, and I took a few minutes after the session to compose a poem inspired by our conversations.
These three poems below are the fruit of our time together, their authorship collectively held.
I come to the land with a longing
For that which I do not know or have or need
For a connection beyond myself
To other people and places and times
I come with a hunger
For the spiritual aspects of matter
For a skillful way of living
Tied to a sense of self and place
For foods of liberation
I come to the land in grief and with guilt
For all that has been lost and stolen and denied
For children taken from their loving homes
For exploited workers upon whose lives our lives live
For broken connections
The weight of this and my tears pull me to the soil
I can hear your heartbeat, taste your sorrow, see your anger, smell your beauty, feel your love.
O Mighty Nurturer
Source of life and food, continually giving forth
However can I show my appreciation?
How may I celebrate you, acknowledge you, thank you?
I long for a spiritual connection to you,
one possible only through reciprocity
Through a dance of co-creation
of power sharing
I seek to learn the steps
To know them in my body
That each day I feel connection
To you, to myself, to the past and the future,
To the collective human murmuration
Let us heal together
Let us know, and affirm, and honor each other’s worth
May this labor of love bring forth connection, beauty, and harmony
A woman cannot live by a basket of turnips alone.
How about a basket of beets?
What can she live by if not the turnips,
not the basket?
Each an artifact of cultural heritage
A descendant of ancestors
The creations of community
The turnips, with their purple tops, are never alone,
roots reaching down, swaddled in soil
Recreating culture in the muck
Feeding fungi here and humans there
And who, really, is feeding the woman?
This human form, not so different from its rocky kin
Just endowed with breath and blood
All of it sacred:
The rocks, the weeds, the human soul
Itself the fruit of long lost seeds
And other lives once nourished by turnip greens