SUE WESTWIND

Mental wellness, Earth-spiritual practice,  Ecosexuality, Poetry.

Sue Westwind writes from America’s prairie woodlands.

I wondered: how many ecosexual passages might be contained on my bookshelf and in the library books currently piled on my desk? They were everywhere! I started with poetry texts I’ve had for years that I knew would yield delicious fruit. It just mushroomed from there—excuse the food imagery, more to come below.  Travel through time and headspaces with me….

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The following excerpt resonates in a kindred-spirit, same-wavelength way with my recent book The Land Erotic: Acres, Ecstasy, and Marriage in Midlife and Beyond.Yes, the poet evidences a need to heal from a love affair gone bad, but also fuses what she knows of love with the natural world’s overwhelming power. This is naked truth in the desert—where she literally gets a little too close to the fire! From Terry Tempest Williams’ Desert Quartet: An Erotic Landscape:

I break twigs and lean them against each other in the formation of a teepee. More smoke. On hands and knees in red sand, I blow at its base, blow again, add a handful of dried cottonwood leaves, blow, they ignite, flames engulf the triangle.

I sit back on my haunches, pleased that the fire is growing in the desert, in me, so that I can dream, remember, how it is that I have come to love. It is fate that determines the territory of the heart.

The wood opens.

I hold every detail of love in my body…The fire holds me captive, charismatic flames wave me closer. I add two more sticks like bodies to love…The wood pops like vertebrae.

I crouch down and blow on embers. They flare and quiver. I blow again. They become rubies. I reach into the coals, believing, and burn my fingers, blister their tips, pull back in pain and bury my hands in the sand. The fire wanes. I cannot bear its absence. I lower my head and blow. The fire ignites. My longing returns. When we want everything to change, we call on fire.

I fetch more wood. Bones of pinyon and juniper lie on the desert floor…The fire is aroused. The flames reach higher, I stand before them with my arms raised, my hands surrender and come down to caress the heat and mold it into faces I love. Do I dare to feel the white heat of my heart as a prayer? What is smoldering inside me?

I step forward. My legs open to the heat, the tingling return of heat, inside, outside, shadows dance on the sandstone, my ghostly lover. I allow myself to be ravished. My generosity becomes my humiliation. The hair between my legs is singed.

It is our nature to be aroused—not once, but again and again. Where do we find the strength to not be pulled apart by our passions? How do we inhabit the canyons inside a divided heart?

The fire now bears the last testament to trees. I blow into the religious caverns of wood and watch them burn brightly. My breath elucidates each yellow room and I remember the body as sacrament.

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Joy Harjo writes from the viewpoint of her North American tribal background that praises the land and the spirit. She is a member of the Muscogee Tribe. She was formerly the Poet Laureate of the United States.

PROMISE OF BLUE HORSES

A blue horse turns into a streak of lightning,

then the sun—

relating the difference between sadness

and the need to praise

that which makes us joyful. I can’t calculate
how the earth tips hungrily

toward the sun—then soaks up rain—or the density

of this unbearable need

to be next to you. It’s a palpable thing—this earth philosophy—

and familiar in the dark

like your skin under my hand. We are a small earth. It’s no

simple thing. Eventually

we will be dust together, can be used to make a house, to stop

a flood or grow food

for those who will never remember who we were, or know

that we loved fiercely.

Laughter and sadness eventually become the same song turning us

toward the nearest star—

a star constructed of eternity and elements of dust barely visible

in the twilight as you travel

east. I run with the blue horses of electricity who surround

the heart

and imagine a promise made when no promise was possible.

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This one’s from a book I got from the university library, called Touching Fire: Erotic Writings by Women. Love it!

THIS YEAR I CAN’T COMPLAIN   by Irene Marcuse

I’m green as grass, as strong
season after season
aching for the sun, the rain

Fullness between my thighs
nipples popping
Calloused hands on round hips
every touch embraces

Garden beds double-dug
soft, inviting sleep
I plant corn and beans
drumming on the earth

Sky melting crimson
first thin slice of moon
and I have bled

Who is this woman
who needs so much
Wants more, always more
fallen, fallen laughing I am

Green horizon line
space between my bones
cracked wide

Pouring out poppies
clouds of lupine
Desire, the juice we feed on

I’m open, open
the moon swells
can’t close myself

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 My father spent time and had a personal correspondence with Robert Penn Warren, whose most famous work is “All the King’s Men,” made into a movie. I inherited a signed copy of Warren’s book of poetry about John James Audubon (1735-1851) with a personal letter to my dad stuck inside the pages. The book’s entitled Audubon: A Vision. I believe Warren grasped how Audobon’s love of birds entered the realm of the erotic:

 

The Sound of That Wind

He walked in the world.   Knew the lust of the eye.

Wrote:         “Ever since a Boy I have had an astonishing desire

to see Much of the World and particularly

to acquire a true knowledge of the Birds of North America.”

 

He proved that the buzzard does not scent its repast, but sights it.

He looked in the eye of the wounded white-headed eagle.

 

Far, over the ocean, in the silken salons,

With hair worn long like a hunter’s, eyes shining,

He whistled the bird-calls of his distant forest.

 

Wrote:        “ . . . in my sleep I continually dream of birds.”

 

And in the end, entered into his earned house,

And slept in a bed, and with Lucy.

His mind

Was darkened, and his last joy

Was in the lullaby they sang him, in Spanish, at sunset.

 

He died, and was mourned, who had loved the world.

 

Who had written:  “. . . a world which though wicked enough

in all conscience is perhaps as good

as worlds unknown.”

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 Who could write more fiercely and chillingly than the tragically suicided poet, Sylvia Plath? I’ve loved her verse from the first time I laid eyes on it. This piece is not the “normal” way a woman “should” write about the genteel subject of flowers!

POPPIES IN OCTOBER

Even the sun-clouds this morning cannot manage such skirts.
Nor the woman in the ambulance
Whose red heart blooms through her coat so astoundingly—

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
By a sky

Palely and flamily
Igniting its carbon monoxides, by eyes
Dulled to a halt under bowlers.

O my God, what am I
That these late mouths should cry open
In a forest of frost, in a dawn of cornflowers.

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Another find from the library: Deep Down: Sensual Writing By Women edited by Laura Chester

from WILD AND BLUE    by Laurie Duesing

I want to rise under my own power
but the closest I’ve come
is the afternoon I threw myself
down on the ground and wept.
The scene was the woods and a person I loved.
That day, that place, that man
were not repeatable. Why wait, I thought
and gave in to grief.
The ground folded around me. I could not talk
but as I listened,
the earth began to stutter.

When I get the blues,
I am trying to show the earth I can reflect
her deepest colors, that I will take
whatever she sends through me.

I want to drive spirit into flesh,
a desire often confused with sex.

Now I am rapt and looking for the still point
between  earth and air. I am willing
to wait while the world turns red,
to watch while everything comes at me.

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Let’s shift gears to think about what might predispose a child to grow up so open to earth-eroticism. This is from a unique book full of research into cultures where such relationships are common and acceptable. There’s also a generous amount of author self-disclosure in the book, entitled Spirit Marriage: Intimate Relationships with Otherworldly Beings by Megan Rose, Ph.D.  Here the author, who grew up in a family of Pentecostal faith-healers, talks about her childhood intuitions and love for a tree:

As a child, I often felt the presence and fullness of the Holy Spirit as a palpable sensation in my body. Even though I did not understand exactly how, I knew it was a different sensation from the ones I felt when I prayed to Jesus or his Father God. This holiest of Spirits often felt most alive to me in and through nature. Later I would come to understand that the experiences I had been having were the indwelling contact of the Goddess, the Divine Feminine, but as a child I simply knew that this contact awakened me in a vital and primal way and left me feeling ablaze.

My love affair with trees began when I was in grade school. . . The street that I lived on, although a newer development, still had significant swatches of undeveloped land. On one of these plots stood a live oak tree that was approximately two hundred years old. Its branches reached over two stories high, its root system was vast and complex.

Sitting in the tree I could listen to the Otherworldly voices of nature. In it I heard deeper than I’ve ever heard before. I spoke to the tree as if it were God—telling it all of my sadness, all my dreams, all my hopes and fears. As an offering I’d sing it songs, mostly just little ditties that I made up, but sometimes songs that I liked or songs that I remembered from church.

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Another take on trees from a writer much censored (in his time) for sensual themes and language, the unstoppable D. H. Lawrence:

from BARE FIG TREES

FIG-TREES, weird fig-trees
Made of thick smooth silver,
Made of sweet, untarnished silver in the sea-southern air–
I say untarnished, but I mean opaque–
Thick, smooth-fleshed silver, dull only as human limbs are
dull
With the life-lustre,
Nude with the dim light of full, healthy life
That is always half-dark,
And suave like passion-flower petals,
Like passion-flowers,
With the half-secret gleam of a passion-flower hanging from
the rock.
Great, complicated, nude fig-tree, stemless flower-mesh,
Flowerily naked in flesh, and giving off hues of life.
Rather like an octopus, but strange and sweet-myriad-limbed
octopus;
Like a nude, like a rock-living, sweet-fleshed sea-anemone,
Flourishing from the rock in a mysterious arrogance.
Let me sit down beneath the many-branching candelabrum
That lives upon this rock
And laugh at Time, and laugh at dull Eternity,
And make a joke of stale Infinity,
Within the flesh-scent of this wicked tree,
That has kept so many secrets up its sleeve,
And has been laughing through so many ages
At man and his uncomfortablenesses,
And his attempt to assure himself that what is so is not so. . .

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Lo! Leave it to wild-man Walt Whitman (1819-1892) to sing the Eros of cities a’ bustle, from “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed”:

XII.

Lo, body and soul—this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying
tides, and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light,
Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies covered with grass and corn.
Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle, soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading, bathing all, the fulfilled noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

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Galloping over to Wyoming—and the nature writer turned cowgirl, Gretel Ehrlich. This is from The Solace of Open Spaces:

If I was leery about being an owner, a possessor of land, now I have to understand the ways in which the place possesses me. Mowing hayfields feels like mowing myself. I wake up mornings expecting to find my hair shorn. The pastures bend into me; the water I ushered over hard ground becomes one drink of grass. Later in the year, feeding the bales of hay we’ve put up is a regurgitative act: thrown down from a high stack on chill days they break open in front of the horses like loaves of hot bread.

The geographical vastness and the social isolation here make emotional evolution seem impossible. Those contradictions of the heart between respectability, logic, and convention on the one hand, and impulse, passion, and intuition on the other, played out wordlessly against the paradisical beauty of the West, give cowboys a wide-eyed but drawn look. Their lips pucker up, not with kisses but with immutability. They may want to break out, staying up all night with a lover just to talk, but they don’t know how and can’t imagine what the consequences will be. Those rare occasions when they do bare themselves result in confusion. “I feel as if I’d sprained my heart, “ one friend told me a month after such a meeting.

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This collection wouldn’t be complete without a note from the essential anthology on this broader subject: ECOSEXUALITY: WHEN NATURE INSPIRES THE ARTS OF LOVE, edited by SerenaGaia Anderlini-D’Onofrio and Lindsay Hagamen:

 

from RECLAIMING OUR EROTIC NATURE   by Gabriella Cordova

Sex happens continually, all around us. With the blooming of each flower, the dripping of syrup from a tree, the singing of birds, and the croaking of frogs, the wild is displaying its erotic nature. The wind carries the eggs and sperm of countless life forms and drops them in fertile fields to become new life. In this erotic world of ours, even the death of organisms plays a role in the reproductive process. Most everything we see and experience is because of sex. Most everything we eat come from sex or is an act of sex.

I have often felt that eating a peach is the most erotic thing I can do. As if nature created it to seduce me. A peach looks just like a full, plump vagina, with its baby soft peach fuzz, its faint blush. I bite into the sweet ripeness and suck gently to make sure I get every drop of the divine nectar, but never do I succeed, and always end up with some of the deliciousness smeared on my lips and chin, reminiscent of something else I love. I never complete the act  of devouring the luscious fruit without feeling a stir in my lovely folds. Pomegranates, figs, pears, and a host of other fruits fill me with similar desires.

When we eat fruits, we are engaging in the sexual habits of these species. They are using our bodies to scatter their seeds afar, in hopes of landing in fertile ground. Next time you eat a peach, know that you are making love to a tree and that the tree is making love to you.

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Hold on tight for deeper (ahem) adventures with fruit! Here speaks a champion of the erotic, the late great Audre Lorde. Audre Lorde was an American writer, womanist, radical feminist, professor, and civil rights activist. She was a self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” who “dedicated both her life and her creative talent to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia.” (Wikipedia). An excerpt from  Zami: A New Spelling of My Name:

 

There were green plantains, which we half-peeled and planted fruit-deep, in each other’s bodies until the petals of skin lay like tendrils of broad green fire upon the curly darkness between our upspread thighs. There were ripe, red finger bananas, stubby and sweet, with which I parted your lips gently to insert the peeled fruit into your grape-purple flower.

I held you, lay between your brown legs, slowly playing my tongue through your familiar forests, slowing licking and swallowing as the deep undulations and tidal motions of your strong body slowly mashed ripe banana into a beige cream that mixed with the juices of your electric flesh.

*

I took a ripe avocado and rolled it between my hands until the skin became a green case for the soft mashed fruit inside, hard pit at the core. I rose from a kiss in your mouth to nibble a hole in the fruit skin near the navel stalk, squeezed the pale yellow-green fruit juice in thin ritual lines back and forth over and around your coconut-brown body.

The oil and sweat from our bodies kept the fruit liquid, and I massaged it over your thighs and between your breasts until your brownness shone like a light through a veil of the palest green avocado, a mantle of goddess ear that I slowly licked from your skin.

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This one is here for my best friend, who has nightmares. Margaret Atwood is a writer most famed in our culture for The Handmaid’s Taleand other novels, but her poetry is quite sublime, and addresses relationships with intricate earth-imagery.

 

VARIATION ON THE WORD SLEEP

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

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Last but never least! From the foremothers of the ecosexual movement, Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle. Take the vow…then eat cake!

VOWS FOR MARRYING THE EARTH

Earth, we vow to become your lover.

With these steps, let us reach your love.

 

Through our senses we will become your lover.

 

Everyday we promise to breathe in your fragrance.

And be opened by you.

Let us not be severed from your love.

 

Everyday we promise to enjoy your colors.

And be surprised.

Let us not be severed from your love.

 

Everyday we promise to taste you.

And be moved.

Let us not be severed from your love.

 

Everyday, ears to the ground,

we listen and are changed.

 

We promise to love you

until death brings us closer together forever.

 

We are consecrated to you, Earth,

through this dirt

that we will become.

All right, fellow booklovers, post your favorites here. . .


Sue Westwind

Writer interested in the earthspiritual and eco-erotic, who seeks to learn and share ways we can solve our mental health crisis through alternatives to medication that heal mind, body, and spirit.

2 Comments

David · December 2, 2022 at 9:44 am

Great assemblage of verse to illustrate your observations. Here’s one I like:
In You The Earth, by Pablo Neruda
Little
rose,
roselet,
at times,
tiny and naked,
it seems
as though you would fit
in one of my hands,
as though I’ll clasp you like this
and carry you to my mouth,
but
suddenly
my feet touch your feet and my mouth your lips:
you have grown,
your shoulders rise like two hills,
your breasts wander over my breast,
my arm scarcely manages to encircle the thin
new-moon line of your waist:
in love you have loosened yourself like sea water:
I can scarcely measure the sky’s most spacious eyes
and I lean down to your mouth to kiss the earth.

    Sue Westwind · December 4, 2022 at 11:48 pm

    This is gorgeous! I will add it to the next collection, thank you!

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