Manzanita and the Fires of Transformation

by Kiva Rose on April 13th, 2008
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Gazing up into the pink-tinged opalescence of bell-shaped Manzanita flowers this morning, I had a singular moment of gratitude for the preciousness of these brief blooms. The Manzanita is a plant born of fire, germinated by intense heat and thriving best in the new ash of the Southwest’s seasonal forest fires. On land scarred by recent burns, it’s not unusual to see hundreds of these newly emerged burgundy barked bushes crowding the still blackened hills. These are the flowers of transformation, a profound beauty birthed out of destruction.

A common theme of my writing has been the experience of the medicine of both pain and bliss, of the life changing effects of intense moments and choices. I have found that it is most often these exceptional experiences that have led me to the brink of change and allowed me to stretch out beyond my imagined limitations and normal boundaries to see the world from a different perspective. The fire of change provides all of us with a gift, an opportunity to step into our fullest selves and embody the power of conscious choice and empowered action.

The poem below is one I wrote during my first year in the canyon, while I was still peeling back the layers of my self and coming to terms with the Medicine Woman I was called to be. This was my own time of transformation, when the hurt child I had been began to blossom and grow into the teacher and healer I have become. The process of integration was not an easy one for me, and much of my writing of this time was focused on metaphors and images of fire and the sensation of being burned or burning. All of this heightened by the intense summers of my new Southwestern home and stark beauty of the volcanic landscape of the Gila bioregion. This poem remains a favorite love song of mine for the people and place I have come to know as my forever home and the wholeness I longed for.


Calling on Fire

When we need everything to change we call on fire.
-Terry Tempest Williams

I lay awake
listening to
the remnants
of an early rain

while everything
I have ever
prayed for
-asleep but still burning-
under my open hands

you are my one desire
you are the wish
at the center
of every dream

I am poppy
and nightshade
this sky is cut through
with a thousand stars

I watch for dawn
and I stare
into the eyes
of god
face unshielded

I grip the ground
and pray
for stasis
and security
even as the world
and falls out from
under my feet

even as I
say my own name
even as I know
this love
as something
no longer separate
from my skin
and the water
that moves
and shifts
beneath my body

I am still afraid
of waking
to white walls
and cold sheets

I am still afraid
of admitting
my own joy
as if by owning
its existence
it would become
something that
was capable
of being destroyed

every morning
I am more fire
and every morning
I brush ashes
from my lips
to kiss you

I have been
calling on fire
for so many years
I have been rebuilding
my own ruins
in order to be whole
in order to be able
to name myself
as yours

Categories: Wild Plants & Traditional Healingways

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