Look back, a forest
walking in the wood
mud mushrooms beneath our feet
water runs slowly
call to us
meaning blossoms sideways
everything is possible
During my lockdown here in Bristol my mother sent me a series of haiku she had written during her own lockdown isolation in New Zealand. Many of them were centred on the landscapes of her childhood. In one of these she wrote:
Childhood walks in woods
Narrow trunks with sparse leaf forms
Look back a forest
Her words called to me from half a world away. As I read them, I felt in my body how we shared the same world – our lives a mirror image of each other. Separated physically by such distance, yet my mother and I can share this world made of trees and memories. Her lockdown in NZ involved daily walks on the beaches where I grew up. My own poetry often reflects those same beaches and what they mean to me. Now I inhabit the woods she writes about. Walking there with my children was vital to our mental health as everything else around us changed so rapidly this year. Hunting for wild garlic to bring home for pesto and seeing it blossom this Spring, just as it does every year, was something solid and comforting.
I wrote back to my mother responding to her haiku with the poem above about walking in the rain-soaked woods. Later, I shared both these poems as part of an exercise I facilitated in a writing group. This how writing for wellbeing helps me and can help others too. It is a way for us to create connection with each other, to share a world made of words and experiences. It is also a way for us to explore our connection to the non-human world which supports and sustains us.
Rachel Hawkins-Crockford is a Bristol-based counsellor and poet. She primarily writes for herself as a way to process life experiences and explore emotions. She encourages others to discover the benefits of therapeutic writing in her counselling practice, professional reflective writing groups and community-based writing for wellbeing workshops. You can find her online here: www.key-life.org