Poetry for “Liberation on the Land”

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.

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.

II.

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

of responsiveness

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

III.

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

Ariel Aaronson-Eves
Ariel Aaronson-Eves