For the earthweal challenge and the dverse open link.

morning in january

Eyes, a window
in a borrowed room
with a view
of borrowed memories.

Thoughts skirmish,
birds after seeds,
rapid as stream water carrying its burden
of glitter into the dark.

Am I the thin branches,
pooling shadow beneath?

Not the bird, jay, crow, pigeon,
that rises chattering,

not the bonemeal
of dead leaves and burrowing things;

my feet are deep in this earth,
making my own ancestors.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

54 thoughts on “Belonging”

  1. This is dazzling – the moment of revelation when you ask
    ‘Am I the thin branches,
    pooling shadow beneath?’
    You have certainly blended yourself with the spirit of the trees: not kin with the birds but something more deep-rooted.

  2. It is wonderful to become so entangled in the landscape that you’re not sure what you are, Jane, as opposed to being in a borrowed room with borrowed memories that won’t last long compared to the landscape. I love the metaphor of thoughts as birds, and the thought of being rooted ‘deep in this earth, making my own ancestors’.

  3. Lovely and timeless. I think we all need to reconnect to nature, where our true ancestry lies — then we have a wonderful future, I strongly contend.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I agree with you. There’s an empathy with other living things that many of us have lost and it’s not necessarily the townsfolk either. Watching the way some of the farmers operate and listening to their reasoning, you realise it’s not contact with the earth that means you know anything about it.

    1. Thanks Suzanne. I try hard to connect, but there’s always the knowledge that we will only ever be spectators. We’ve move too far from the spontaneity of other life forms.

      1. In my poem for this challenge I wrote of the entanglement I felt seeing another species dying. I think climate change grief can take us into a deeper connection with the natural world.

  4. I love the topic of belonging. It is one I ponder often.
    “my feet are deep in this earth,
    making my own ancestors.”
    These lines really captured my attention. You have used ancestors here in such a different way.
    This poem makes me think of being the observer of one’s life.

    1. Thanks Ali. Belonging is a difficult concept when you’re forever moving on. I feel I belong to an idea of a place and I take the idea with me. Creating my own ancestors is taking memories and planting them wherever I call home. I think they’ll grow 🙂

      1. Recently I was talking to a friend and she referred to a place as her heart home. This was not the place she lived but the place her heart felt at home. I thought this was a lovely notion.

      2. It is. We shouldn’t expect to find it easily either. All the time we’re looking after a family, we’re constrained by work and what’s best for them. It’s only when we get a relative liberty that we can ask ourselves what exactly do we want.

    1. Yes, it would be truly something to be able to step out from our man made environment and feel ‘at home’. But we’re creatures that live behind glass in heated rooms. Much as we’d like to be part of the greater world, we always end up among our own kind.

  5. Okay, so, putting aside how amazing this poem is… the ending is very very very interesting… it really makes me think:

    my feet are deep in this earth,
    making my own ancestors.

    Shabbat shalom,

    1. Thank you, David. I’m flattered those lines made you think. It’s an idea I carry around with me, not being rooted anywhere. My roots might end up being shallow, but I’ll create generations behind me from memories 🙂

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