Friday, March 5, 2010

Skunk Cabbage - March 5, 2010 come, dreaming of ferns and flowers

and new leaves unfolding

upon the brash

turnip-hearted skunk cabbage...

...Your kneel beside it. The smell

is lurid and flows in the most

unabashed way...

...but these are the woods you love,

where the secret name

of every death is life again -a miracle...

...What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.

The skunk cabbage is a powerful harbinger of the delicate flowers to come, and in the liminal time of winter to spring it shows it's power to turn death into life. Out of the muck of pond's edge, before flowers, before fruit, before harvest, comes what is not always pretty.

Our lives are not always pretty, and are as powerful and smelly as cabbage root. We are life bursting forth, rising out of the slime of existence. We belong to earth and all her magnificence, and there is peace in this knowing.


  1. Skunk cabbage is also harbinger of new animal life. As frogs release themselves from the muck where they spent the winter below the frost line it is time for mating and tadpoles. I was made to keep my tadpoles/frogs out on the back porch because they smelled of lots of nasty things. I'd change the water for new swamp water with protozoan and later mosquito larva for food for them daily. After watching the metamorphasis I'd take the frogs back to my favorite swamp and imagine it was mine I heard at night.

    Looking back and thinking about why I did this every spring, I think it had an assurance for me that I would metamorph into something that would be beautiful and right when I seemed to be wrong and unbeautiful so much of the time. Nature and the understanding that I was one of it's members kept me sane through a difficult childhood. It was true. I was right. When I was released into the swamp on my own I saw my inner beauty emerge and be acceptable to the swamp of society around me.

  2. T said...
    Thank you for choosing this poem - I had never read it before, and it's perfect for me at this particular time...I was just wondering today what was going on with me the last few days...a kind of surliness? an abrupt cutting off of old things that have outworn their usefullness? an irritable turning away(turning toward what?) I was second guessing the urges, but staying with the feeling, hoping to learn whether it is intuition or neurosis! Then I recognized myself in the poem! - this is my "skunky" stage of Spring metamorphosis - just in time for the Equinox! Thank you!
    To Sally - I have always loved tadpoles, with their wonderful big heads, and am still VERY fond of toads with their wide mouths and limpid eyes. Your child self seems quite godlike, engineering her old little mini-creation. Thanks for the lovely post.

  3. These sharing with T and Sally are so rich for me - do you see that we are not so alone in our hunger for nature and wholeness?