Shelley Motz – Two Poems


Sun Salutations


I wake up in a circle of ancient cedar trees.
Cool, damp moss soft beneath my feet.
Too-whit, too-whoo. An owl settles down to sleep.
Somewhere a salmon leaps upstream.
I take a deep breath.
Count one, two, three.
Say good morning to the swift and fragrant breeze.


A storm rode in when I went to sleep.
This morning there’s a snow bank two feet deep.
Barren dogwood branches bow before me
and a lone hound howls wildly.
I take a deep breath then count to three.
Say good morning to the snowflakes and the startled Brant geese.


There’s new life in the garden, springing from seeds.
Green buds open slowly on the mock orange tree.
I lay my shovel down. Wipe the dirt off my knees.
Take a deep breath.
Lean my back against a tree.
Say good morning to the robin and the mason bee.


Seagulls swoop and holler. Bears play in the creek.
Snow melts in the mountains and peaches fall from trees.
I have a faded hammock and a book of poetry,
Strawberries for breakfast and a mug of cold mint tea.
I take a deep breath.
Count one, two, three.
Say good morning to you and good morning to me.

Sappho, your poems

Sappho, your poems—sweet and fecund, heavy
with expectation—quiver like apples
on low-hanging branches (almost ready
to snap), draw intoxicating and sun-dappled

landscapes. Vast. Fertile. I become your words.
Twine like the vine of dill and crocuses
braided into your love’s hair. Fly with doves.
Sing and swoop. Suck sweet nectar from roses.

Here, there are no sacred groves, no altars
set for Aphrodite: only thickets;
murmuring winds; hearts that sometimes falter,
sometimes triumph, build protective picket

fences, knock them down, then build them again.
And, we, who love fiercely, despite the rain.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Sometimes the beauty/of distortion awakens/me to subtlety.

I wrote this haiku at the edge of a mosh pit. A friend had asked me to go see a legendary punk rock group. I don’t recall what song was playing but, underlying its dissonance, there was a hook that pulled me out of the every day, out of space and time, into that which folk singer Peter Mayer calls the Holy Now.

The Holy Now is always with us but sometimes it is hard to find. There is too much noise, too much rubble, too much life. Beauty helps us find it.

You asked me about beauty. Let me show you an ancient Japanese bowl–its cracks filled with gold. Let me show you a cedar sapling growing out of a fallen tree. Listen to the strains of silent night ringing out of WW1 trenches.

Beauty breaks the bounds of time and space. It transcends the boundaries between you and me, us and them. It is as essential to life as water, and just as easily taken for granted when we do not want for it.


Shelley Marie Motz lives on Canada’s west coast on the unceded territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. Culture, place and identity are prevalent themes in her poetry, fiction and essays. Her work has recently been published or is forthcoming in The Timberline Review, Plenitude Magazine and the anthology Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in our Hands. She is the winner of the 2015 CANSCAIP prize for best picture book.