Time for Love of Nature, Nature of Love Month on WIZ

Valentines1-0124

For the second year, we’re making February €œLove of Nature, Nature of Love € month on Wilderness Interface Zone.   To celebrate Valentine’s Day, all month long we’ll publish poetry, essays, blocks of fiction, art, music (mp3s), video or other media that address the subject of love while making references to nature.   Or it could go the other way around: We’ll publish work about nature that also happens to give a nod to love.   That presents a wide field of possibilities.   We’re seeking submissions of original work or you can also send favorite works by others that have entered public domain.   So if you have a sonnet you’ve written to someone dear to your heart–even and perhaps especially your dog–please consider sending it to WIZ.   See the submissions page in the navigation bar above.

Also, February 24th is WIZ’s birthday.   We’ll be two years old €”a toddler now.   To celebrate, a couple of posts will offer presents to our readers.   Because without you, dear readers, where would we be?

There’s more than a slight hint of thaw in earth and air.   The light is growing longer.   The first waves   of the Canadian geese migration are rolling through the southern Utah county where I live.   Hen-and-chicks and stork’s bill are beginning to preen.   The coyotes are pairing off.   February is a good month to warm things up.   Got love?   Celebrate it here on WIZ.

Song: “You’re Better Than That” by Arthur Hatton

Arthur wrote the music and lyrics to “You’re Better Than That.”   He also plays the instruments (keys, bass, piano, lead vocals).   His brother Thomas Hatton wrote and sings the backup harmonies.

Listen to “You’re Better Than That”

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Arthur Hatton is a psychology student, songwriter, and founder of Linescratchers.com, the only website online that features and interviews LDS musicians who don’t write LDS music.   He also hosts the Linescratchers Podcast.   He wrote this song after a particularly difficult winter in which he lost a good friend.   For more music written by Latter-day Saint musicians, visit http://www.linescratchers.com/.

*Non-contest submission*

Guest Post: Waters of Mormon, by Mark Bennion

Listen to Mark Bennion read “Waters of Mormon”

Amid the tingle of forest and shadows,
you ford through the water
to the sway of its purl and girth,
a surge of billow where air arrives
in speckles of light. The only
distance is the reach of your hand
and the life after petition and promise.
Trees rustle in incandescence
as the crowd’s whisper fades.
You have come to the place
where heat and cold start to matter.
This point you approach in dusk,
trust, flashes of maroon and stream.
What you’ve known you may come
to remember when the night returns
its grip. Ease into the ripple
now, feel the numbing of flesh,
let the wave bury you
until the sound of dawn.

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For more by Mark Bennion, go here and here.

Guest Post: Sorrow and Song, by Mark Bennion

Listen to “Sorrow and Song” by Mark Bennion

Sariah

That morning you came to me
I saw the lamp arising in your beard,
a flash of iron and fire
wisping in your robes and hair

dreams full in your mouth like jamid
and your gait uneven on the hardest soil.
I thought I knew what you were about to say,
how sweat and sand would become our clothing,

how silt and thirst would cut
amidst the walking and walking, how we’d
migrate like dunes, carrying the memory
of limestone, rain, and bazaars.

How you said, Jerusalem will burn
until the ash pits rise like mountains
and remnants will be carried away like wood:
that celebratory yet somber look

stung in your eye, your frame shaking
at your own obedience. Together
we swung and fell in this desert refuge,
witnessed our sons turn to tempests,

hunts, lies. The belief that our names,
perhaps, were stamped to tribal codes;
we, the outlaws of Manasseh, plodding past
Aqaba, finding meat in wadis, our flocks
 
as lost as we were, but submitting
still to the crisping, wilderness sun. How
God chose us to leave when Zephaniah,
Ezekiel and Habakkuk stayed behind,

left to time’s or the dungeon’s swifter,
less fruitful fate. Eight years later we knew
the scorpions, the serpents, the vultures
hovering about; we understood the ruah,
                 
the deadening of salt, the trap-catch between
Jewish pearls and promised land, the
flair of an oasis and the heat stroke
of even the smallest mirage.
       
Such vassals we were to exile and need,
to passion flourishing in this barren
landscape. The new beginning of sons €”
our concluding harvest €”the lengthening of days

bound to the sea’s endlessness, the energy
of something greener, something more
bountiful and destructive, something more
miraculous than Moses’ call

to the Red Sea. Forgive me, Lehi,
for my complaint and hardness.
I thought I saw the end
as you believed in our beginning.

Praise me, Lehi, for my denial
and acceptance, for my quiet confidence
in a goat-haired tent. You confessed
the vision as I believed the implication

of leaving shekels, pulse, and friendship
for the tough yet merciful cup of prophecy,
the line given to us in our journey
through this burnt offering, unexpected life.

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jamid:   a hard round food containing goat’s cheese, grass, and various herbs.
 
wadis:    usually dry river beds, except during the rainy season.

ruah:   Hebrew word for wind, intellect, or spirit.

This poem originally appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought vol. 38, no. 2, Summer 2005. It recently was published in  Mark’s poetry collection Psalm & Selah: a poetic journey through the Book of Mormon [Parables Press, 2009].

For another of Mark’s poems and his bio, go here.