THE RETURN, by Geneen Marie Haugen

It’s All Hallows’ Eve here in the U.S, the day preceding All Saints’ Day (Nov 1), and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2). It’s the time of year when we honor the good souls who have passed from this earthly plane into the next realm of being.

As such, I felt called to offer a poem today, written by the gifted partner of one of my mentors.

Each time I read it, I’m returned to my own wild longing. It inspires me to take off the jacket of conformity that I’ve somehow slipped on (yet again), and go out to face my own final frontier. I’m called to let go of what is dying in me, so that I might, one day, return courageously with native gifts and sweet, silent whisperings of that larger conversation that is always happening…

So today, dear reader, I offer this poem to you.  May it feed or un-do you in just the right ways.


THE RETURN, by Geneen Marie Haugen

Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.

Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces

of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.

Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.

If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,

you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.

And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language

to teach them, without a compass
bearing to a forgotten border where
no one crosses without weeping
for the terrible beauty of galaxies

and granite and bone. They tremble,
hoping your lips hold a secret,
that the song your body now sings
will redeem them, yet they fear

your secret is dangerous, shattering,
and once it flies from your astonished
mouth, they–like you–must disintegrate
before unfolding tremulous wings.


Photo: Noah Silliman


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