I woke this morning from a dream of wild animals carousing in the backyard – so I reached for the book beside my bed: Sidestep Catapult, by Anne-Adele Wight. I found those same creatures described by my own unconscious lurking in her poems. Some animals are hungry; some just curious; others are downright vicious. Wight embraces the moods of these animals in all their complexity.
Wight’s poetry brings our primitive nature to consciousness. As I read, an insistent remembrance of my primal side erupts through the surface, illuminating everything. Neuropsychology has mapped this part of our brains. Sometimes it is referred to as the reptilian brain, and part of it sits at the base of the skull. It lives within us and informs our behaviors, though many are eager to deny it.
A mystic teacher, DC Vision, once said to me, “People think the natural world is beautiful. It’s not always so glorious. When you look closer, you see nature is savage. It devours itself.” He spent several years traveling by horse across the United States, so he should know.
I have my own gut feelings about the reptilian brain. Avoiding interactions with the natural world and denying we are part animal pushes our primal instincts deeper into the unconscious. Repression makes this part of human nature, which is linked to survival, more dangerous – or something to fear. Wight chooses to confront our inherent animal instincts instead. In What Led to the Hawk’s Nest, her wild creatures appear unbidden in the civilized landscape. “Florida panther paces towards you out of garage.” Later, “teeth close on your wrist.” This theme is reiterated in Leopard Flower, “did you order animals for the toolshed?/ they’ll split it open.”
To our civilized minds, wild animals are unpredictable and cruel. Yet there is a distinct memory of the human world being a part of this:
Eons have passed since we lived in the sea
in language heavy-forest
our throats lack bone and cord.
Wight points out the separation between humans and animals: communication through language is what drives a rift between species. Yet even with all their skill, humans lack the apparatus to speak to animals.
Wight’s subjects are imbued with light and fired by crystal energies. Her book harbors the uncontainable: the elemental forces of nature and the mysteries that envelop them. Earth, air, water, fire and spirit coalesce in many of her pieces. Crystal communication, plant energies, expressions of water and bursts of air emanate energy and light through movement or even in stillness. Though these elementals travel a slightly different frequency than humans and animals, they are no less powerful. When activated, the elementals portend signs of supernatural importance. Transatlantic Night Flight is a good example of this:
From inside Ptolemy’s crystal
gridlines divide the Atlantic
humming traffic control.
Emeralds fall around me
brings them down in a windfall
hooting carousel tunes.
Is this the music of the spheres?
I love the way Wight posits the final question, set apart from this stanza. She is adept at perceiving through multiple senses. Wight is also attuned to the experiences of the astral body.
Christmas Shopping takes this holistic, sensual awareness even further:
every letter an element
each element its opposite
each opposite a color
every color on fire
Solstice Eve recounts a magic ritual where those gathered fuse with the natural world and initiate a stream of energy that is set quickly into motion.
Four people five trees
how force is number
working here and now.
Something pulls toward tree skin
from the core of a ring of five
music struggles in upper branches
In magical rituals, intention guides outcomes. The act of gathering creates a centrifugal force held onto by those in circle and perceived and expressed through feeling, sights and sounds in nature.
Wight’s work is the product of a mind with acute sensitivities. For those who see themselves as a part of the natural world – not just a banal observer — Sidestep Catapult will provide a jolt of recognition and a renewed sense of unity with our wild animalistic core.