Seasonal Fragments by Colin Sanders - GTEC Reader

(Author Note: these fragments were composed over the period 2020-2022 as the Covid pandemic infected and killed millions globally. Throughout this time especially, the holy forest has offered sustenance and hope, and has been evocative and enchanting. These fragments accompany a suite of fifteen paintings created over the past two years, three of which are represented in this current publication of The GTEC Reader. Robin Blaser’s The Holy Forest (2008) collected Blaser’s lifelong serial poem, covering fifty years.)                                 – Colin James Sanders



“Some humans say trees are not sentient beings / But they do not understand poetry”.

“I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down…”

(Joy Harjo).


quiet reigns within the holy forest
air resonates with mind’s thought flowing

where wind has toppled immense trees
a lattice work  geometry of tree upon fallen tree

sun creates flickering shadows
amongst ferns

water music bubbling over smooth polished stones

charcoal remains lightning fires
burned trees shaped like church domes


rhizome root networks nurturing new growth

Mother Earth resilient, symbiotic, communicative

sacred bundles once placed in the boughs

of  trees

in the holy forest

what is your story?


Tolkien had it right
trees speak

oracular trees, Druid, Duir, Celtic for Oak

truth courage wisdom

tree of life
roots and branches reaching out
entangled surroundings


we know who we are in relation to others’

minds, bodies
co-creating, co-evolving (Gregory Bateson)
multiple identities




we are but visitors upon this earth

the settler history of these woods,
industry imagined as progress

Chapman Creek, Roberts Creek,
Soames, Cliff Gilker logged

flumes moving  logs seaward
to the mill established by
Henry Mellon in 1908, Port Mellon

logging vernacular: choker, side-lift, rigging
boom chains, boomstick, grapple


walking trails loggers forged
handheld saws toiling,
transforming the holy forest

how many men and animals died
falling trees for Industry
creating wealth for men who abhorred Unions
with homes in cities with streets named after them


yellow-brown  crisp maple leaves
blow off  boughs
pad the earth
we wander along

emerald green Spanish moss and lichen
covers living branches and boughs

five black slugs upon the trail today
recall poet Gerry Gilbert

bear scat but no bear
recalls poet Gary Snyder

the dogs sniffing the air


winter within the holy forest

boughs heavy with pristine snow
snow absorbing the already quiet
snow flakes silvery light glimpsed in sun light
icicles form upon branches and stream rocks
where spring waters will flow




astonished  amid such grandeur
we can only absorb so much
attending  to particulars

recalling, mind and nature,
a necessary unity (Gregory Bateson)
thinking, estrangement and alienation occur
when mind’s divorced from nature


ancient wisdom dwells herein

deeply rooted knowledge

where mushrooms emerge

birds flit beneath the underbrush
crows caw amongst the trees
chipmunks race around the tree’s circumference
teasing the dogs


mythology breezes by
speaking of the oblivious
not the obvious

through the boughs, Salish Sea reflects sky
blue-grey shimmering light
then orange then crimson


then starry night

moon through the trees
illuminating sea


gnosis, roots and branches
tree of knowledge
a “forest of symbols” (Victor Turner)

anthropomorphic images
and creature faces abound

faces in the whorls
knots in the wood
all transforming

sea creatures swirling in the bark
branch fingers reaching out

signs alerting to coyote dens
shape-shifter tricksters

we are mere visitors within the holy forest
act accordingly

(paintings by Colin James Sanders)