Healing Places

Mount Douglas Park (near Ash Road)

My treatment for prostate cancer included forty blasts of radiation at the Cancer Clinic of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. I cannot say enough good things about the Clinic and its staff. I felt supported and cared for. Nevertheless, at the end of each radiation episode, I needed to dispel the feeling of being caught up on a conveyor belt of treatments. Before joining the other conveyor belt of Highway 17 north to home, I spent an hour walking in some of Victoria’s beautiful open spaces. One of my favourite places was Mount Douglas Park, especially the southeast corner of the park where there is a grove of ancient Coast Maple trees and a trail down to the beach where a little creek enters the ocean. I return to this place often.

Trailhead and Cantilevered refer to Mount Douglas Park; Cascade derives from a photograph taken by Tim Rogers at the mouth of Tod Creek on Saanich Inlet, another place of sanctuary.

Trailhead

On the hillside bench
where lunchtime cars
park in forest shade,
a trail sidehills past
the buttress of a guardian fir
down the valley of a hidden creek.

The trail is scuffed by many feet,
yellowed with the crisp leavings
of a dry summer.

Low-tide odours mingle
with the musk of forest duff.
Blues of sky and water
flicker through a scrim of trees.

It is good to pause here on the bluff,
breathing, letting the heartbeat slow,
shedding the prison garb
of grey preoccupation,
before descending open-hearted
to the glory of the shining sea.

(August 2016)

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Cascade

Short of time,
I hastened down the trail
to where the creek
surrenders to the ocean.
I dared not linger.
At the little falls I stopped and gazed.
Cascading water hushed my thoughts.
Struggling, I remembered why
I was so hurried.
The creek said “Ssh.”
I thought about the uproar
in the world we have inherited.
The creek responded as it will
With “Ssh!”
Pliant, it guides its water
Back to home.

(February 2020)

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Cantilevered

Cantilevered from the crumbling bank,
brought low but curving to the light,
this fir persists.
One heavy rain into the clay might
refresh its roots but bring it down.
What to do but fashion needles, ripen cones?

Through the forest in the slope behind me
sunlight warms my shoulders.
The bright patch moves seawards;
I will not follow it.
Like the fir, I take what I need from this place,
learning not to ask “How long?”

(September 2017)

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One thought on “Healing Places

  1. I remember well you telling me about your respite at Mount Douglas Park. Wish I could teleport to each of your poetic scenes. Xo >

    Like

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