Volume 1, Issue xii
Wild Greens 1, no. 12 (October 2021)
Welcome to the October 2021 issue of Wild Greens
Falling leaves pile up in a blanket of golden brown and ruby red on cut lawns and forest floors and street gutters. The divestment of leaves from trees is a ritual of loss and change, every year again and again. The leaves are a reminder that humans aren’t the only creatures who create rituals; ritual is part of the cyclical earth we inhabit.
The act of making itself is often composed of rituals, patterns, and routines that get us in the headspace to create.
This month we feature the ritual of movement in Jessica Donahue’s breathtaking dance performance, “Light Our Inner Night,” with choreography by Jessica scored to music by Tim Brey. Lisa Molina’s poem, “Sacred Trance Dance,” captures the ritual of going to a concert performance, and feeling unison with strangers.
Katie Huey and Rebecca Samuelson both reflect on the problem of how we define and create rituals. In Katie’s essay, "Globes of Red and Ritual,” she reflects on the pressure of establishing a grieving ritual after the death of her father. Rebecca’s poem “Disconnect” is similarly engaged with the problem of memorialization.
In the next installment of Lauren Kimball’s “Turtle and Hare,” our two friends critique one another for their respective rituals of boxing and basking.
Douglas Hardman’s “spirited away” and Aimee Nicole’s set of poems, “Direct Hit” and “Prayers #2,” ask: how do we break from toxic rituals? How do we redirect our paths in order to create more holistic and healthy ones?
To end, we pull back the lens to ask why we keep rituals? What are we really remembering and memorializing? Sam Vladimirsky’s portraits of historical reenactors documents the instincts of self and community preservation, and also the joy of getting together with friends. Finally, Jessica Doble’s poem “Good Ground” follows Persephone, the goddess of spring, as she performs a ritual on the ground of the bloody battle of Gettysburg. The poem explores how places hold memories, and how those memories create meaning.
If this issue has us questioning our rituals, it also marks a ritual of its own. Each month we publish, and we are grateful that you return to read and share with us.
Light Our Inner Night
Sacred Trance Dance
by Lisa Molina
In the trance-like daze of the
darkened dreamlike domed arena,
the players swagger
onto the stage
spotlight, smiling, and
the crazed communal crying crowd
swoons and screams in ecstasy
while hearts of primal drums
and guitars of wood and
metal strings awaken to life
by the long nimble fingers
And we are stunned.
Surrendering to the swaying
sea of sound surrounding us,
seeping into our marrow until
the surreality of this moment
Strangers, we sing together
as luminous lanterns shine
like The Liturgy of the Light
in the darkness of the night.
We roar, as a wave crashing
towards the shore, fingers reaching
for the glowing edges of
that magic shining orb so that
we may be baptized in the Light
and blessed by the humming
vibrations of the sacred
soul-searching songs of
Love and Loss,
Desperation and Satisfaction,
Betrayal and Redemption.
All songs sung since the
beginning of time.
in this trance
Our souls in unison.
Globes of Red and Ritual
by Katie Huey
On an ordinary Thursday evening we sat in my small kitchen, sharing food and laughter as dusk turned to darkness behind my sliding glass door. The last dinner I ate with my father included three of his hearty favorites — bloody steak, green salad, and a baked potato dripping with butter.
After we ate, Dad and I did the dishes, taking turns dipping our hands into the sudsy sink to wash away dinner’s remnants. Dad took a red wine goblet out against the metal tub, accidentally cracking the rim. As he lifted the glass, large shards broke away, leaving him holding a stem with half a globe. A set of four suddenly became a set of three.
I told Dad to not worry about the mistake. Crate and Barrel is always stocked with more. He promised to buy me a new one next week.
The promise never was fulfilled, because there was no next week. Dad died, unexpectedly, the next day. Our family of five turned to four overnight. There were many shards to pick up in the suds.
Time has a way of marching on, wobbling at times in a disconcerting sway. As I began to develop my grief legs, I was told about the milestones I’d come to and how important ritual would be to my recovery process.
When the year anniversary approached I was asked by multiple people, “How will you mark the day? Do you have any traditions?”
“Traditions?” I thought. “Doesn’t it take repetition to build a tradition? How many years do you have to do something in a row for it to count as a tradition?”
In pursuit of an answer to my own wondering, and a sense of obligation to grieve correctly, I gathered with friends from my grief group. Squished around a dining room table with goblets of red, I asked for advice. Wise women reminded me to do what feels good. Ceremony or not, the day of his death doesn’t have to be marked by darkness. There is no guide book for this part of life after loss.
On the first year anniversary, I gave myself the permission to say, “I think I’ll try this, just for this year.” I went to Dunkin’ Donuts, selected three, and left the greasy bag in the park next to the lake where Dad taught me to ice skate when ponds still froze over in January.
I’ve now had a few years to practice. While I’ve gotten a bit more creative, with each approaching death day, the marbled weights of worry and wonder fill up my shoes, dragging me down with the fear of what honoring should look like. The pressure to create meaning while honoring his absence swallows me up into dark pits of guilt.
* * *
In 2020, the anniversary of Dad’s death approached a week after lockdowns first began in the U.S. I was afraid to drive three miles to the Dunkin Donuts to get a chocolate with sprinkles. I made waffles at home instead. This year, the five year milestone was marked with isolation. A surprise delivery of gourmet donuts from a friend arrived at my door a la Door Dash and accompanying texts of support buzzed in .... Dad would have said the maple and bacon was excessive. His preferred donut was plain glaze. Nothing fancy.
The gifts of sugar, carbs, and smears of frosting brought him into my space. I wept by myself and went to work behind Zoom screens, waiting for the day to be over.
Both grief and the pandemic continue to teach me I can’t control much. I can, however, choose to do what feels good. The threads connecting my intention to honor his life and integrate his memory into my living, present tense, always surprise me. Remembering him must take place on more than one day of the year.
Often, these small ceremonies include hunks of red meat with a side of fries and blue cheese to dip them in. Or an extra black cup of coffee left on my desk to grow cold while I wait for him to absorb the steam. I’ve marked mornings with fingers of shortbread and tumblers of whiskey on the piano. I’ve toasted with cold beer, pouring Colorado craft beer onto sand and pebbles where he used to hike.
Ritual does not have to mean repetition.
I play his favorite songs when I’m working. Baseball makes good background noise for a Saturday afternoon. Drinking coffee from his mug is an easy way to sip in his essence on an ordinary Thursday morning. Whether I’m pouring red wine, sinking my hands into a sudsy sink to do dishes, or slicing into steak, maybe my dad is there with me.
I raise my glass of red to toast to ritual. Here’s to trying. Here’s to creating ways to remember, and here’s to you, too. Perhaps, the magic lives in our choice to witness and welcome in whatever way feels good. Cheers.
Deactivate my fb when I die
do not send out birthday wishes
or overdue DMs from beyond
One time I got a message
happy birthday in caps from
my grandpa five months after
his funeral because someone
still had his password and
thought this would be sweet.
I cried for a week.
Let my birthdate reside in
memory with tribute to my
photo on the living room wall
My mom says people
pass away around important
dates so you don’t forget them.
How come no one in our family
has died around Arbor Day?
Erase the comments left
on shared posts no threads
to obsess over independently
I have multiple email accounts
with multiple folders that lead
all the way back to my Xanga.
Reminiscing over old blog posts
takes up a lot of time.
If I should go before you,
leave the tags for my head
stone & flowers for me to marvel at
Boxing and Basking
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Toil and rubble
Into the cauldron
A recipe for trouble
Blood moon fever arises
A chalice of red wine pressed against my lips
Charging and cleansing my aura
The first sip is the hardest
Bitterness begets bounty
The transformation is about to begin
Who you once saw
Will be a distant memory
The séance has begun
But this enchantment has no expiration date
At least not for me
Doesn’t mean I’m feeling alright
I left my amethyst under my pillow
For my eventual hibernation
While the effects are temporary
The repercussions are everlasting
Even the grandest of Supremes
I, too, must face my demons eventually
But the spirits, they beckon to me
Meet me at the alter
Speak in tongues as we enter a new realm
Friends turned strangers turned deviants
My curse is now yours
Burdened with purposeful glory
Will you meet me on the cliffside to howl at the moon?
Just long enough for me to trip you down the hill
I have been given different instructions
My master expects perfection
I have shed blood and tears and identity for this
How could I possibly go back?
Night after night, years after years
What could you possibly fear?
Happen to a terrible life? The unexpected
The shadows are fading
I must retire
But do not fret
The ritual is never over
Just at rest
As we enter hurricane season,
the first storm barrels towards us.
Rhode Islanders clear
shelves of milk, bread, and eggs.
How they plan to prepare a dozen
eggs once the power sputters out,
no once can answer me.
I sit calmly with electronics
drained—so many years spent
limbs flailing and debris blurring vision
trying to feel my way towards safe
haven center. I’m here to report
that no amount of preparation
can save your body from
the impending destruction
caused by a direct hit.
Standing beneath Echo Bridge
I howl obscenities into the ether,
hoping to crack a slither into
a parallel universe, reverse life
before those wicked ways.
Hard to swallow but yes there
was a time when I didn’t act
out for so much attention.
Sat in lace dresses on pews
and begged for forgiveness
of crimes I wasn’t even sure I committed.
How can I confess every sin
when they are also the responsibility
of the boy who threw me into that
well of my mind until I could scratch
my way to the surface, knuckles so swollen
I required amputation at the wrist.
See behind the scenes of Wild Greens. Our Ko-fi page contains concept art for past issues.
My tasks each year
goddess of spring
The ground of the bloodiest battles
Recovery needs coaxing
The white and purple wildflowers
Thistles that grow five feet
The buried acorns to seedlings
I place my palm on ground
Crackling dead grass
The thawing ground
Seeped blood of men
Last two seasons,
I find embittered cold from Father-Zeus
Tastes of chalk on the back of my throat
I dirty my thigh with brown decay
Place remembers relives
The humans reenact
The gods remember
The shades entombed
The opening of the ground
Ritual and battlement park
Happens at sunrise
I raise my arms
Mimic the sun’s path
Mother behind me
These tasks alone we perform in alignment
Dryads emerge from shadowed trunks
The Auloniades from their grounded bedchambers
The scarred Hamadryads, life tree-tied
These are the nymphs of the land—eyes of knotted bones
We call upon mother earth
Gaia of us—we are you
To heal from the frozen season
and deaths of thousands
We call upon Gaia
for fertility and victory
in the compassed ground
ridged to little and round topped hills-beat our breasts
We call upon the hearts
of pilgrims, the salt tears
the rooted connection
and the care of history
We wrest life
from the dead
We scream Ouranos
sky holds life giving light Aether
We scream Gaia
Earth food giving life
We scream Poseidon
in thirst we cannot be quenched
It pulls more from me
My domain and power more violent
The spring volatile
from thousands of years
I grasp, it positioned upon the miled ground
Retread for hundreds of years
I wield power and body to dirt
Delicate fingers alight the veins of memory, desire, death, and hunger
We build a great bonfire
Light to light of the rising sun
We greet Dawn
Soak our faces in her caress
The birth of spring
Mother kisses my parched forehead
Her wheat hair entangling mine
Dryads dance flickering and strengthening
In the coming day
Naked limbs and torsos their trees
The waters from beneath them
Stealing the air
Pressing the sunlight between
Their hands their thighs
Each blink of the eye
The earth my back
Light piercing lids
Soon the humans will come, marvel at Gettysburg
Cry from bent backs
We used to pound our breasts in mourning
Instead these humans take pictures
Listen to Gettysburg’s storytellers
They don’t remember the gods
Clasp hands between them or in front of their chests
Sometimes I star my body and wait for them
To walk the grassed plains
Reverberating footsteps echo
Hades picks up my body
Grasping hands behind knees and back
To Plum Run to be soothed by the Naiads
He wades to the deepest part of the river
And the Naiads press me
Cool water seeping to tissue
A tide upon bone
Goddess of spring
If you like the issue, you can donate to Wild Greens through our Ko-fi page!
Artists and Contributors
Poet & Dancer
Writer & Poet
Aimee Nicole is a chronically ill, queer poet currently residing in Rhode Island. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Roger Williams University and has been published by Cajun Mutt Press, The Nonconformist, and Rye Whiskey Review, among others. Her first collection Daily Worship was published by Laughing Ronin Press Jan 2022. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @aimeenicole525 for awkward selfies and pictures of her cat.
Arts Editor & Artist