Why Be Light


Why Be Light about Living?

like the imprint
of an egret
winging over the lake,
we, too,
(made mostly
of space
between atoms),
go on

I dedicate this poem to my beloved sister Ceilie who died fifteen years ago today.


On the Shore of Lake Chapala.

A place to loaf
to invite your heart
to open;
a place to float,
to dream;
balmy the air,
languid the new
neural connections;
not jumped but
in ardent


Searching for the Poem,

I look under the table.
The tiles bear a subtle spiral imprint
that travels from one tile to another,
grounding me in a single pattern,
connecting everything—
like a poem.
I look up at the game,
teens batting a ball in the pool.
Keeping it in the air,
they count aloud their cooperation,
keeping sweet rhythm,
like poetry!
I look out at the sparkling lake,
which through eons observes
human pleasures,
human pains;
making a long
poem of witness.

Conchita at Lake Chapala

Every day she pushes two handtrucks
loaded with tapetes and blankets and bolsas,
one at a time down the cobblestone street
to a grove of trees by the lake;

She unties the plastic bundles
and strings her ropes in the towering trees.
I marvel at Conchita’s system,
a thrill of lassoing and knots,
using only her own, old body.

Each tapete, sewn to a stick,
has a partial hanger embedded.
With a long forked pole,
Conchita thrusts above her head
one tapete at a time,
hanging them thusly on her lines.
Each blanket, too, she lifts
with the pole that is taller than she is.
The straps of her bolsas, she loops
on a giant circular hook,
hung low for customers to browse.

A short and sturdy woman
with the presence of a mountain,
the weaver lives in a little room
up the street from the lake.
Someone says she’s from Oaxaca,
another says Guerrero, but Conchita
names her beginnings not at all.
The braid down her back
is still mostly black,
grey only over her forehead
above her dark and lively eyes.
Hijos? I ask. No, her response.
From her armsweep gesture, I cannot decipher
if her hijos are dead, or never were.

Susa Silvermarie, writer

On Sundays Conchita builds her shop
and sits like a bodhisattva to tend it.
But Monday through Saturday,
reliable as daylight, she weaves
the web of her tienda and then,
without a costume change, transforms
into Spider Woman, Weaver Goddess.
Around a eucalyptus trunk, she fastens
one end of her backstrap loom.

She seats herself on the earth
at the exact stretching distance
for the tension of her loom,
and removes her plastic shoes to go to work.
Her strong feet point to the lake,
her arms begin their dance, and
her fingers perform, as if on their own;
Ageless and steady she weaves,
the rhythm of her motion
like the gentle waves lapping closeby.

Yet around her seems to sparkle
something of a trickster spirit.
Today, my water bottle ruptures—
When I jump up, Conchita points
at the growing puddle and grins.
Is that pee? Ha Ha Ha!
raucous as the parrot overhead,
she teases me.
The weaver with a twinkle
coaches the serious poet:
You must laugh about it all.
From separate worlds,
meeting at the sacred lake,
we laugh, the weaver and the poet.

People like me who see her working
cannot know her childhood,
cannot imagine what mother or aunt
from a long ago time and place,
taught her to weave and laugh.
I can’t know Conchita’s longings,
or comprehend the mettle
it takes each day for her
to stay at her work, with wit!

At the end of a day, even when
she sells no weavings at all,
Conchita’s laugh resounds like the call
of a solitary freebird.
When darkness descends,
she finds the strength,
this old woman weaver in Ajijic,
to dismantle her whole tienda
and haul it away again.
Like the imprint of an egret’s wings
crossing the sky over Lake Chapala,
each dusk, Conchita’s presence
beneath the eucalyptus trees—


tapete                  wall hanging

bolsa                     purse, handbag

hijos                      children

tienda                  store




Her Great Groan, a Pagan poem scribbled during Christmas service

Mountain Moral Monday Rally Asheville NC 8/5/13
Person Waking Up and Fed Up

What really saves us,
Blessed Mother,
is your receiving.
Your open womb
births the season’s innocence.
It nests us each, then pushes
us out into starry light
to begin at start again.
But this season,
your womb contracts and expands
as never before.

You thrust us—
we hear your great groan—
into the Turning Times!
Mother of all living things,
you birth an earthling
never seen before, one aware
of being you. With all your powers
of receiving and creating,
a human newly conscious.


Holly Near’s version of O Holy Night!

Winged and Singing

A vision for the Turning Times, inspired by Gloria! The Cantantes del Lago Concert in Ajijic:

Our wings are rising, rising.
Women, men, and children—
I see the peoples of our planet
winged and singing, singing.
Multitudes in robes of radiance
we are singing songs of mercy,
of mercy for the earth.

Our wings in many colors!
Crimson as hibiscus blooming,
yellow as an child’s trust,
blue as glory in the morning,
and every hue between—
our wings are rising,
rising as we sing.

I hear our voices climbing,
winding grief and glory into one,
a golden strand of double helix,
good will spiraling with sorrow,
wrapping joy and human trouble—
We lift our human story
into song containing All.