A Quarantine Lamentation


We are dust, waves, salt, ash and lilac.

We are not separate from the Mother.
Our knowing is complete with hers,
Has no degrees of separation,
Is at one with the pulse of all her moons.
This is true.
A woman is the only threshold into humanity.
Our human pattern is woman-woven.
And all beings are with her, are known by her.
Are dear to her, even as we forget her.
This is true.
We dread the exile from her,
The forced march into a small life,
The trail of tears away from her stronghold,
The middle passage between birth and death.
This is true.
Who would want to leave her?
Who would want to be caught inside her?
To be born a woman is to carry the world.
This is most true.

Dust, waves, salt, ash and lilac.


Dirt, and roses, silver, grease and skin.

She showers her life into us,
Hangs all the stars and every moon.
She calls us out, she calls us in.
She sends us peace, she dreams our sins.
The kitchen of this human world,
Her holy oven, our searing heat,
Her streaming salty sweat, our rough desire.
She boils us in that cave between, her mountain thighs
where lives our endless grief, our short relief,
our raucous laughs, our weeping eyes.
Her womb, our soil—her blood and bile—our moods,
her flesh—our food, her heart—our eyes.
Our spirits only always craving peace.
How are we not within her?
And how is she not in us?

Dirt and roses, silver, grease and skin.


Platinum, cinnamon, moss, icy silk and sharks

She barks and howls, squeals and wails.
Her body breaks, the bowels exposed.
We blast her bones again for dams
And stuff her cracks with fire sticks.
We bomb the infants while they suck
And shatter families praying.
A whale on a beach is covered with hooks,
Hooks in her eyes, hooks in her mouth,
Tangled yellow plastic ropes,
Rusty needles of medical waste,
Strangling her gills, tying her tail.
And she looks at you,
that right, right whale.
She looks at me.
“You are what you throw away.”
“Enough.” “Stop.” “Go Away!”

Platinum, cinnamon, moss, shredded silk and sharks


Beeswax, iron, poppies, panthers, wild grass

We are her feet, walking the paths of her once green lands,
Longing for peace as we dream of the kill.
At times, I have been the prey she stalked.
And I have stood for her—met my sister’s wrath,
The icy lashing of her hateful words,
And I have received the poisoned whip of your loathing,
The rusty arrows of your spite-filled fear,
The ancient litany of our common lament.
Our lonely rage howls down the concrete canyons
of the urban stage, and through
the smutty sky even in the city sewers, and then,
Across the savannahs and into the monsoon rains.

We crave the touch of your invisible hand,
The tender scent of your jasmine breath,
A jealous glimpse of those soft green breasts.

Beeswax, iron, poppies, panthers, wild grass


Soot and saffron, honey, snow and blood.

For what bloody purpose, then, was I born?
And could I still feel your divine hand graze my face?
And did I come to fight for you?
And how endless is this exploding night?
Will you ever answer me?
And why this little hawk falls from the sky…?
And what is the smelly scum on the beach below?

No end to my questions; yet no response.
No real darkness anymore, no true silence.
But I can still hear my own blood beating
In your veins if I stand in the field
Under the full moon when the owl dives
From the oak above and the rabbit screams.

Soot and saffron, honey, snow and blood.


Hail and steam, a bubbling spring, the morning dew

Hinges rusted, latches loose,
crossbeams sagging,
A shattered mirror on the floor,
My empty eyes are worldless.
No bones can be replaced.
The tide full out, the ice caps melt.
All earthly eyes are empty now
I know I will return to her.

Hail and steam, a bubbling spring, the morning dew


Crystal, brass and licorice, the crows, a speckled egg

But you will always re-enter my violet moon.
You will remember me, feel drawn back in.
You have not learned my pulses yet.
You still won’t trust me.
And when your body hears my song,
your mind absorbs me,
and all at once, forgiving,
your spirit softens into mine.
It is then and only then
That I sing
For you,
Or right now
As we sit here.

Crystal, brass and licorice, that crow, an indigo egg.


Meteor and sleeping bat, honeysuckle, rabid rat

I always see you in my earthen eyes
And tangled in my salt kelp hair.
Can’t you see my skins hanging cloud soft
and loose on spongy, water bones?
And these burned out breasts, long, now and desert dry.
What you human women know is
less than you imagine.
You have forgotten more than you know.
And what you remember is not yet enough.

I will craft you tougher now than a turtle’s hide
And strong as the winter winds,
Strong as an infant’s birth howl, or its last breath.
You are my earthen soul.

Meteor and sleeping bat, honeysuckle, rabid rat


Sky, wind, stone, stream, a scream, the silence and a fire.
Oh, blessed emerald mother of amethyst eyes and ruby heart
you have borne me into mortal form.
To your green dust and ash, your salt, mist
and mossy, honey breast I crave return.
You have sent me here to share your green blood,
Your scarlet fire, your silver winds, your diamond stars.
You have shown me a woman’s way
a quiet calm, a path of breathing peace.
May I also touch the steel of your will,
your molten scarlet rage
And your righteous fury
On this paltry human stage?

If I promise you my life
If I sing of you
If I breathe you in
Will you take me home
When I am done?
a stream,
a scream, silence,
your fire
and your mercy,
please, your mercy.


This lament was mumbling and tumbling inside me for quite a long time even before the gridlock of the Quarantine Order. After that, I was hearing lists of earth words on my walks but none of them were in sentences. Just lists. Verses started erupting, boiling over themselves like lava. She simply wouldn’t let me alone until the very end of it when I could beg for Her Mercy.

The lilac photo is by Jeannie K.
all other photos Alexandra Merrill

About the Author

Alexandra Merrill has been living and working in Maine since the 1980s. Her long-term focus has been on creating experiential education models to support the development of women’s leadership. Along with these replicable models, she has developed retreat models for the internal work needed for leadership in our complex world. In 2019 she published Offering, a collection of essays and images including personal experience, a bio-mimetic, female-identified group dynamics theory, specific leadership practices, embodying gender equity, inclusion and diversity principles along with diverse writings from colleagues who are using this nature-based methodology in their own businesses and teaching.

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