The Saints Are All We Have Left

Woman No. 9, paper collage, 2021

we have names for souls
even now
it’s only a matter of time 
before the ghost-keeper fools us

as if death won’t follow us
if we never leave the ground
won’t untie the kissing thread

and the antidote?

spray paint your failures
on the walls
deliver the crow 
from its artificial cage

the instinctual woman is migratory
is the season and its endless undoing

she is an assassin of flower beds
of rose petals assembling 
in harvest or in protest

the “I” in the vine
imprinted like a passing train

Woman No. 12, paper collage, 2021

Many of us, I think—artists, poets, creatives, especially—hunger for the depth and richness of primary experience. We get a sense of it when we are making, when we lose ourselves in the creative act, feel as if we are conduits for something greater. We let go. We reconnect with our senses. We move without thinking, as if to music only we can hear. And often we come away feeling as if we’ve danced the dance, participated in the rhythms of life and death, in being and nonbeing, even become more animal than human for awhile. It’s that feeling of contact, of primacy, of animality that’s become increasingly important to me over the years. 

I want to know the world in that way. I want to see it raw. Indeed, I think many of us would gladly unsee the civilized world if we could and, in the process, unlearn a lot of what prevents us from flourishing, from becoming. 

I think our souls crave goodness. Raw, natural, wild goodness as an antidote to what ails us. When we create, we get a sense that goodness lives within us. Or at least that it “touches” us somehow. I get that feeling in nature all the time. That I’m coming in direct contact with goodness. It is, for me, a kind of primary experience. I immerse myself in nature. I engage all my senses. And I get the distinct feeling that I am seeing goodness—that I’m looking at the soul in things.

I not only view nature as a source of goodness, but for me, it has also become a source of values. This, too, is a matter of primary experience. Of seeing. Of intuiting and understanding. Of somehow remembering that which our souls already know.

Prints for the artwork in this post are available in my Etsy shop.

To see more artwork like this, view the Nude Collection.

6 responses to “The Saints Are All We Have Left”

  1. my goodness…such a wonderful post. I love the poem and your thoughts. And I agree, I think we all in some way long to have the “primary experience” see the soul of things, the goodness of things..and nature seems to effortlessly deliver that to us. High octane experiences only seem to leave us yearning for more..nature, however, leaves us fulfilled in a way that doesn’t leave after the high…nature seems to sustain us and gives us what our soul craves..peace and connection to something that intuits and knows without a doubt that we are a part of magnificence. Nature can be harsh and cruel…but it seems to instinctually balance itself allowing us to see its absolute beauty and life’s absolute goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you about the hollowness of thrill-seeking/pleasure-seeking experiences. That’s actually a lesson it took me a long time to learn. One of the things I think nature shows us is that our own savagery, our “killer instincts,” are a necessary part of a larger whole (much like suffering), which is overwhelmingly good. And the more we observe nature the easier it is to understand that. And the easier it is, I think, to understand that we shouldn’t turn those negative impulses against ourselves or others—that there’s a better, more balanced, way to be.


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