Tag Archives: Mormon nature writing

The Gardener Finds Out Death by Adam G

800px-Apple_trees_covered_with_ice

In Spring the gardener finds out death–
What fruit tree limbs did not overwinter.
Some stems twig and bud and bloom,
Some stems splinter.

I lost a limb some seasons back
From my own flesh–my firstborn daughter.
Time healed the break, but I still lack
The apples of her laughter.

__________________________________________________

Adam lives with his wife and children in central New Mexico near the ranch his great-grandfather lost in the Great Depression. He is a member of the www.jrganymede.com blog.His oldest daughter, Betsey Pearl, died of cancer in the spring of 2005.

Open on the Plain by Mark Penny

AltamiraBison

The plain stretched tritely left and right,
Flat as the sky it laughed at,
Which was gray
And rolled like prairie, but less wild.
Bands of rain scented the slow wind with their sweat,
Stalking through grass as yellow as a sun
Ripe on the lowest branch of waning time.
They’d be here soon, but not before I fled.
I sat with the dogs,
Facing the ruins of a fire:
Surly white stones speckled with planet dust,
Stained with the feeble fingerprints of flame.
The oil pump on a neighbour’s farm
Browsed on the beasts its shape bore memory of:
Big head, long neck, deadly indifference,
Sucking the black blood of the earth
The way mosquitoes have since blood began.
A piece of charcoal wound up in my hand,
Scraped a few lines of very basic art
On the disgruntled face of one white stone.
Meant to be Cat,
Looked more like Bison.
Something with spear and arrows in me danced
And caverns shook with earthy reddish light.

________________________________________________
For recent work, a bio, and additional links, go here.

Image: Altamira Bison by Ramessos.

Deer Skull on Giant Stump by Mark Penny

I’m locked and loaded on a night of curtailed sleep
Curtailed at starting end
The movie was too good to sleep through
What was it called?
About?

That paragraph I wrote for English-with-Foreigner 1-15
Is in my head like the aftershock of a bad-apple head-on with a truck
It gongs and dongs with it
So I’ll tell it here

It was the story of a day
So many days ago I laze to count
Thirty-six years of days, I guess

Remember jamborees?
Great, gaudy gumball gatherings of boys Continue reading Deer Skull on Giant Stump by Mark Penny

Earth Day Honorific: George Handley’s Home Waters

512px-Upper_Provo_River_Utah

We interrupt Spring Runoff for an Earth Day pause, in prose, as a way of remembering that, among its many reasons for being, WIZ is a quiet place of earthen bearing, dressed in soil and water and seed, in sun and winter and stone. We come here to read, “o’er the mountains, by the sides/Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams./Wherever nature [leads,]” either to hear the “still, sad music of humanity./Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power/To chasten and subdue” or to feel a “presence that disturbs [us] with the joy/Of elevated thoughts: a sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused,/Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,/And the round ocean and the living air,/And the blue sky, and in the mind of man. . . .”*

Few enough of us hear those things, or see and feel them, but fewer still do something about it. George Handley is one of those precious few, and is regularly in the breech. Handley is a professor of Humanities at BYU in Provo, Utah. He is also an active environmentalist and an avid outdoorsman. His recent (and still running) book, Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River, has made a substantial impression as both memoir and important work of environmental theology. George speaks and writes on the issues he raises in his book–and so much else–often and stirringly and in ways that provoke both humility of spirit and a desire to do a little something to help. He has graciously sent along the following excerpt.

Winter has been defeated, no question. It is a glorious spring day today, and I can’t resist the temptation to get in a run early this morning before the kids’ Saturday soccer games. The impression of an evergreen valley, coated in velvet grass, only lasts a month or two before the piercing sun at these altitudes brings the green into submission. I don’t mind the brown like I used to, which is why I feel all the more guilty for my pleasure, which in Utah feels like the sinful pleasures of the carnal mind. So be it. Today I will be a hedonist and I will stare unapologetically at the viridian velvet of the mountain contours.

I pick a stretch of the Provo River Trail that winds along the banks through the city. I pass under concrete bridges and across streets to keep pace with the water, which flows in a controlled and only slightly meandering line. The water is higher than usual but not by much. Before the Deer Creek Dam was built in the 1940s and before the grid of middle class homes began to spread across the land the way thin sheets of ice claim window panes in a sudden freeze, the water regularly breached the banks, depositing the sediments brought from the mountains, providing fertile spawning ground for fish, and renewing and enriching the soils of riparian life. Continue reading Earth Day Honorific: George Handley’s Home Waters

Thank you, 2012 LONNOL participants!

Valentine_Antique image woman bird cupids

Wilderness Interface Zone would like to thank participants who put their hearts in our Love of Nature Nature of Love Month.  The list includes:

Elizabeth Pinborough
Kathryn Knight
Gail White
Ashley Suzanne Musick
Sarah Dunster
Chanel Earl
Sarah Dunster
Mark Penny
Laura Craner
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jonathon Penny

You all helped WIZ celebrate love and nature with fair fond tokens of well-worded affection.  Thank you!

Thanks also go to our readers and commenters.  There’s still plenty of room open (until March 24) on our LONNOL month giveaway of Typhoon, starring Dorothy Lamour and Robert Preston.  If you’d like one, please go to that post and leave a comment.  I’ll contact you for shipping information.  WIZ offers these DVDs free to readers in appreciation for your presence here and for your support of WIZ’s mission to create a rhetorically-diverse space for Mormon nature literature (though, of course, all nature writers are welcome–see submissions guidelines here).

Also, WIZ’s 4th Annual Spring Poetry Runoff Contest and Celebration will open on the vernal equinox, March 20, with categories for both competition and non-competition, an open-invitation spring haiku chain, another Retro Review, and other revelry.  Please make a note of the Runoff’s pending arrival and watch for announcements detailing this year’s activities and prizes.

Again, deepest affection to you, contributors, and to you, readers and followers of WIZ, for your continued presence here.

Come in Under the Shadow of this Red Rock by Chanel Earl

Calf Creek 2-1

As we walk—side by side—down the long sloping trail, we pass gray trees and black igneous boulders peppering the otherwise white, sedimentary landscape. The earth is a mirror reflecting the hot yellow sun that has so recently removed winter’s snow. I point out traces of vanished streams; you find lizard footprints delicately decorating their sandy banks. We continue on.

I thirst and walk and imagine living forty days in this forsaken place. The nights are cold, the days are sweltering. My mouth dries and I see only sand, sun. The blue skies taunt and laugh with derision.

If there were water and no rock.

I imagine this land as sea, sediment settling onto the ocean floor as the waves rise and fall. I swim and fall to the bottom of the deep.

If there were rock and also water, and water—a spring—a pool among the rock.

I imagine Elijah, sliding into his cave among the rocks to find a saving pool. He drinks and prays.  And sleeps.

If there were the sound of water only—the sound of water over the rock.

As I continue to dream I hear the water. It falls through the canyon. It seeps through the rocks and splashes onto the sand.

I take your hand.  We hear snowmelt careening down the canyon. The rocks echo the sounds of thunderous falls as we arrive at our destination. Too cold to swim, I sit and drink and feel the cool mist on my hot face. You lie, relaxed, in the warm sun.

If I were living in this rock’s shadow, I would live with you. The ravens would bring us grapes and melon. Every morning we would wake to the life of the desert.

On our return you find green buds sprouting from the tips of each gray tree, trees that grow out of living rock. A black bird soars above us.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chanel Earl grew up in Utah and currently lives in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to reading and writing, her hobbies include teaching, gardening, knitting, quilting, watching way too much television, parenting and housework. Her work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, The Wasatch Journal and Revolution House Magazine. Her short story collection, What to Say to Someone Who’s Dying, is available online. Chanel is a Mormon. You can find out more about Chanel and her writing at www.chanelstory.blogspot.com.

Meadow Talk by Sarah Dunster

Wade BrightPurpleFlower via Wikimedia Commons

There is no better talk

than

thoughts shared in violet hollows

where not so much praise as scent

not so much words as velvet—

soft petals on our faces—

speak our language.

So, love, make plain

what

you might wish in digging out

green hills for four-leaved omens

we might taste in stems of waiting clover

and I might see in hollows of your

throat, your lips, your eyes.

______________________________________

Sarah Dunster contributes regularly to WIZ as a writer and a reader. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world and at words embodies the spirit of LONNOL month. She has published in Dialogue and Fire in the Pasture. For more, go here.

Make like a tree by Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle

Make
like a tree* and
grow, bloom and bear fruit,
give shade, give shelter, sow seed,
weather storms, dig deep,
breathe deeper.
Be useful
in your
death:
frame
well,
burn
bright,
enrich
the soil,
and,
mulch
made,
resurrect
a tree.

____________________________________________________________________________

*This is, of course, a variation on the common adage to “make like a tree and branch out,” and the less common adage, used primarily among canines (the dogs, not the teeth), “make like a tree and bark.” Puns about leaves will not be tolerated.

___________________________________________________________________________

Professor Percival P. Pennywhistle despises children and loathes nature, which often gets on his shoes and under his fingernails, but he recognizes that both are important enough to be addressed, and so he writes poetry and other things for children, some of it about nature. Bits and pieces of his work can be found here, and he can also be reached on Facebook and via email at pennywhistlestop@gmail.com. The poems published on WIZ come from Poems for the Precocious and Alphabet Stew: Poems in a Particular Order. Other projects in development include Mythiphus, Me Grimms and Melancholies, Kid Viscous and the Mysterious Substance, Jonah P. Juniper and getting Ben Crowder to be his illustrator.

Dialogue Summer 2011 issue has some WIZards

Coming soon to a mailbox (or computer) near you: Dialogue’s environmental issue.  Several Wilderness Interface Zone contributors are included therein–congratulations, friends! Frequent WIZ contributor Steven Peck guest edited this issue.

Table of contents:

Page     Author     Title
Mary Toscano     Front Cover
Inside Cover, Title Page
v     Edwin Firmage, Jr.     Letters
1     Steven L. Peck     Why Nature Matters: A Special Issue of Dialogue on Mormonism and the Environment
6     George B. Handley     Faith and the Ethics of Climate Change
36     Craig D. Galli     Enoch’s Vision and Gaia: An LDS Perspective on Environmental Stewardship
57     Bryan V. Wallis     Flexibility in the Ecology of Ideas: Revelatory Religion and the Environment
67     Jason M. Brown     Whither Environmental Theology
87     Bart H. Welling     “The Blood of Every Beast”: Mormonism and the Question of the Animal
118     Mary Toscano     A Perch, A Foothold, A Float
119     Patricia Gunter Karamesines     Why Joseph Went to the Woods: Rootstock for LDS Literary Nature Writers
134     Adam S. Miller     Recompense
143     Ron Madson     Grandpa’s Hat
148     Sarah Dunster     Gaius
150     Harlow Soderborg Clark     Easter Sermons
152     Jon Ogden     Seasonal Ritual
153     Jonathon Penny     Winterscape: Prairie
154     Karen Kelsay     Mother Willow
155     Sandra Skouson     Girl Without a Mother to Her Big Brother
156     Mary Toscano     The Tightrope Walker
157     Hugo Olaiz     The Birth of Tragedy
161     David G. Pace     American Trinity
177     Benjamin E. Park     Image and Reality in the Utah Zion
180     Polly Aird     Not Just Buchanan’s Blunder
190     Rob Fergus     Scry Me a River
196     Mary Toscano     Wherever He May Go
197     Peter L. McMurray     This Little Light of Ours: Ecologies of Revelation

Can’t wait to get my copy.   I’m very happy to see so many WIZards’ work appearing in the issue, including poems from WIZ’s 2010 Spring Poetry Runoff.

Only complaint: The cover girl or boy polar bear is cute, but I would have put hummingbirds up front.

Just sayin’.

String Theory by Steven L. Peck

On the warm late Spring shore, late
in a lunar glow,
he stood looking at the waves
trooping slowly, relentlessly into the cove

He stood wondering about the strings
of which some say he was made

Of what tidal forces were they drawn?
What sort of other moon forced him
into existence by its orbit around . . . what?

He placed his foot in the sand
it felt cool, rough, and yielding

What are these qualia, ‘cool’, ‘rough’,
‘yeilding’, and why such pleasantness
bubbling up in the vibrations he has become?
How do vibrations, causing vibrations, ponder
those vibrations?

Becoming? Vibrations becoming?
Vibrations becoming him?

Before the deep waves had twisted into
just the right harmonies to
create this self, this himself,
what was there? Nothing? Abyss?
but then . . .
How? Why? How why now?

So there is the moon—a bolus of strings
bouncing light waves from an even larger
solar knot of strings, exciting waves
in neural bundles packed within her eye,
passing through intricate
webs of waves upon waves in intricate and
complex tangles and astonishing frequencies,
which finally erupted into

a pleasant night, on a beach, watching the
ocean move.

__________________________________________________________________________

Steve Peck is an ecologist at Brigham Young University. Creative works include a novel: The Gift of the King’s Jeweler (2003 Covenant Communications); a self-published novella A Short Stay in Hell (reviewed here and here), a short science fiction story: The Flaw in the Lord Harrington Scenario, published in HMS Beagle (online journal by Elsevier); poetry in Dialogue, Bellowing Ark, BYU Studies, Irreantum, Red Rock Review, Glyphs III, Tales of the Talisman (in press), and a chapbook of poetry published by the American Tolkien Society called Flyfishing in Middle Earth.  Steve blogs at bycommonconsent.com and has a faith/science blog called The Mormon Organon.  For other poems by Steve, go here and here.

*contest entry*