Epitaph for Wild

With the coming of the Christmas holiday, and the new year right around the corner, it seems fitting that I share a poem that I wrote 30 years ago about my feelings toward Gaia, or the health of our planet, and where we’re going as caretakers of this marvelous creation. This year of 2020 can either be one of despair, or it can be one of awakening.

I wrote this poem sitting on a rock in the high desert as a clearing storm painted a rainbow across the early morning sky, and the photograph below was taken at that time on a Minolta 35mm camera using Kodak Kodachrome 64 transparency film. The words came flowing out, sitting on that rock, and writing on an old notebook with a stub of a pencil (you do remember pencils and paper, don’t you). It really was a time of reflection, and discovery, and hope:

Epitaph for Wild

There’s a Kingdom where the ravens play with rainbows
And the mountains kiss the sky,
As the dancing crimson sunbeams paint the heavens
Where the Angels learn to fly;
Where the silence of a moonbeam echoes wildly
Through the caverns of my mind
And this cool September morning fills my marrow
With a high desert high.

A siren’s song is taunting from
The pinnacles and valleys of this land;
The desert’s silent melody is calling
Like a lover or a friend,
And yet this fickle lady wipes my footprints
From her shifting, blowing sand
As though I never was…so like
The flicker of a firefly on the wind.

I walk among these canyons where the
Ancient Shaman lived, and loved, and died;
I feel Him walking with me, I see His tears
And hear His mournful cry;
But not a sorrow for Himself,
Nor for a son, or for a daughter’s child…
These tears are shed for Mother Earth,
For Bear, and Hawk, and Wolf, and Father Sky.

The Shaman’s cheeks are pitted, as from poisoned tears,
So like the acid rain
That falls upon the scorched earth where the
Graceful raptor’s shattered bones are lain;
Where once God’s mighty warriors of the mountains roamed,
Long absent from their dens,
As wildness lies bludgeoned unto death…
What a treacherous lot we call men.

Behold, the changing colors in the clouds
Forever heralding the rain,
The lifeblood of the desert, coursing
Wildly through her arteries again;
Life has been renewed and resurrected,
All forgiving of the pain;
It seems to me a promise,
Not a legacy of ages lived in vain.

There’s a Kingdom where the ravens play with rainbows
And the mountains kiss the sky,
And the dancing crimson sunbeams paint the heavens
Where the Angels learn to fly;
Where time and space rejoice in singularity
As once it all began…
And starlight waltzes lightly with my soul,
As God proclaims, “I Am”

©1990 Bob Freeman

This planet has endured and evolved, and will continue to do so in spite of our treatment of her, and will adapt and change and continue to evolve with or without us.
As we move into a new year, with new opportunities for understanding, and new opportunities for change, we must do so, or we will find that we really will have lived in vain. I still choose to see the glass half full.

Published by

texasflashdude

Photography and Travel, specifically adventure travel and backpacking in remote North America, give me an excuse to stay outside. If kayaks, bikes, backpacks, Jeeps, archeology, geology and wildlife can be included, all the better. Having spent my life working in the fashion and photography industries, I love the unusual, the spectacular, and the beautiful. God has given us a wonderful world in which to live, and I try to open others’ eyes to its wonders. I have shared nearly 50 years of this indescribable wonder with my wife, Jodie, and we go everywhere together. I hope you will share some of our journey with us.

5 thoughts on “Epitaph for Wild

  1. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that knowledge and love are related. That which we love, we come to know more deeply, while increased knowledge often deepens love. You clearly both know and love the world you roam, and it shows in your verse. Well done.

    1. Thanks for that observation. Also, that which we love, we protect. Astronauts know this love better than anyone, because they have felt the separation, and seen the fragility, and also have the greatest fear of mankind’s lack of love for this place. You, also, love the creation all around us. It shows in your photography, and in your writing. Please keep observing.

  2. “A siren’s song is taunting from
    The pinnacles and valleys of this land;
    The desert’s silent melody is calling
    Like a lover or a friend,
    And yet this fickle lady wipes my footprints
    From her shifting, blowing sand
    As though I never was…so like
    The flicker of a firefly on the wind.”
    This stanza particularly struck me as our time here is temporary and Nature has her way of erasing our marks that we leave behind. Although we as a population seem to strive leave lasting physical impressions upon the Earth, the passage of time will eventually make our time here moot in the existence of the planet. If life came from a sea filled with no life then the Earth will replace what we have destroyed.

    Kodachrome was my film of choice although ASA 25 more often than 64. You captured the power and beauty of that fleeting moment so well.

    1. We really are on the same page.
      Geological time is a most difficult thing to fully comprehend. What is truly significant to me is that humanoids have only existed on earth during the last 10% of the last ice age, and we’ve documented at least 5 significant ice ages, and we’re still coming out of this last one. If homo sapien manages to survive the next global warming curve (and that’s a totally different topic for discussion), chances of still being here after the next ice age are questionable, at best. Put that into the context of the average lifespan of homo sapien vs. the 4.5 billion years of planet earth, and we see how we truly are like the flicker of a firefly on the wind.
      I think it’s remarkable that we, each individual, are here in the first place. To that point, we should make the most of our flicker of time and rejoice in (not destroy) this perfect moment we have in the geological timing.
      Thanks so much for your comments.
      I came to nature photography through the wildlife avenue, and Kodachrome 25 was just too slow given the lenses that were affordable back then. Sometimes I even had to shoot Ektachrome 200 (ugh).
      Have a fantastic 2021 and please keep posting your most excellent images.

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