This poem was published at the Tourism Tofino website in December.
Poem and photos by Joanna Streetly
dance with me
nods the wind, with all the intent
of a milonguero, hungry for the tryst
and so it begins, glances exchanged
the first chord strummed, the unmistakeable ruffle
as an ocean gathers her skirts, flourishes them
at the fluttering fan of the trees, branches sighing, tempted
by the thrill of it, innocent
and so it begins
pressure falling, stormwind rising
rushing the ocean in sudden runs of steps
the sea’s skin darkening with every gust
air like blood squeezing through the bellows of winter
and the wind swings wild, wilder
singer and dancer surging together, apart
crescendo, glissando, and oh! the supple backbends of the trees
bark peeling, branches spinning from the strong arm
of the wind, whirling toward the climax, the deep
red centre of the low, the sudden silence
before the roar
heave, surge, spill, devour
sea-licked channels penetrate the shore, reach for the dark
rim of the forest, each groove deepened by the in-and-out
swell, the in-and-out tide
all eyes on the dancers now
the reaching sea, windmilling sky
the whipped-up shrapnel of froth, jetsam,
tangled mounds of dark coiling kelp
and oh! the shooting spark of a white bird, emerging
soaring through the tunnel of waves, the dips
and curves of the dance, and the weighted fist of clouds
unclenching, falling open
and after in the forest, the wreckage of trees
finery of branches far-strewn in
the chaos of rapture
oh! the chaos
Milonguero—title given to a man who embodies the essence of tango.
Cabaceo—the invitation to dance, usually a nod or a glance.
Bandonéon—musical instrument, like an accordion used in tango dancing.
Cortina—the end of the dance, the parting of dancers.
Locals came together on November 30th to mark their concern for vanishing wildlife as part of an international series of events (see website: https://onca.org.uk/2018/11/20/some-of-us-did-not-die/ )
In Tofino the event was marked by a walk from South Chesterman Beach to Frank Island, a reflective opportunity to challenge the creative mind to act with hope in our commitment to nature.
The walk was followed by a beach fire at which Pacific Rim National Park warden Tanya Dowdall shared information about locally endangered species and the need for all of us to keep pushing for better and setting examples of excellence for others to follow.
Poet Sherry Marr reflected on the event with this poem: https://stardreamingwithsherrybluesky.blogspot.com/2018/11/in-remembrance-of-lost-species.html
Locally endangered species identified by the park include:
Edwards’ Beach Moth
Southern Resident Killer Whale
Pink Sand Verbena
Sand Verbena Moth
Seaside Centipede Lichen
It is significant that the list of threatened and endangered species in Canada is many pages long.
Thanks to Toby Theriault for the photographs
Your feedback is welcome. I’m seeking ways to make this event more inclusive and meaningful in future years.
Sherry Marr is a Tofino poet and a regular contributor to the Poets United website. Her current post features Janis McDougall’s powerful poem, Missing You. Don’t miss it!
In 2015, Jan created her “red tape dress” — to mourn and bring attention to missing and murdered women as part of Tofino’s participation in the REDress Project.
Two years later, the Pacific Rim Arts Society put on their Cultural Heritage Festival Show, with the theme “Celebrating Women of the West Coast”. Jan wanted to honour and draw attention to the women who were absent from the show—the missing women. She mounted the poem on the red tape dress.
There are many missing women from Vancouver Island, including Lisa Marie Young, whose family is Tla-o-qui-aht, and have never given up hope of finding her. Learn more in this article by Shanon Sinn.
Walk from South Chesterman Beach to Frank Island to raise awareness of threatened and extinct animals as part of the International Remembrance Day for Lost Species.
Join a beach fire afterwards to hear and share local stories, updates and sentiments.
Children may want to dress as a favourite creature, or bring their favourite stuffed animal.
This walk is a way for adults and children to show we care about the animals, plants, places that are vanishing. Such sadness is something we haven’t coped with on today’s scale before.
This summer Tahlequah the orca carried her dead calf at the surface for 17 days straight, prompting a deluge of grief from around the world. A strong part of grief lies in feeling helpless to prevent extinctions from happening. Studies show that even something as simple as a group walk can help build resilience when dealing with feelings of loss.
Friday November 30th. (It may rain, but we can handle that—right?)
South Chesterman Beach entrance (see map, below)
Cedar Forest, the young woman behind this poem, is 14 years old and lives on a tiny island near Tofino. She says: “I am inspired by all of the beautiful wilderness around me.” That inspiration shines through this beautiful poem. Thanks for making my day Cedar!
This poem, Tribute, is in response to the totem pole, or Čiinuł, raised in Tofino by Tla-o-qui-aht carver, Joe David on September 7, 2018. The pole reminds all people to respect the Tla-o-qui-aht Hawiił, (hereditary chiefs) whose immaculate stewardship of these lands and waters is the embodiment of responsible leadership. The beautiful teaching of hishuk ish tsawalk (everything is one) and the value of stewardship were my inspirations for this.
I was honoured to present this poem at the celebration following the pole raising.