Friday, June 22, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This

Some of the Many Things You Missed

It’s the springtide of the moon
full and heavy float the moon jellies
to hands’ reach, the glass lace
of their tentacles scarcely moving…
Pat Lowther

the bay is full of jellyfish that don’t sting
pulsating full-bellied yet diaphanous moon jellies
blue-tinged with four pink gonads
their only colour not brains but genitals

why moon  were they named just for being pale
did they remind someone of that pockmarked face
did they appear to the namer as small craters convulsing

they look more like petticoats ballooning down a staircase
or shower caps or miniature parachutes
the size of a thimble or a dinner plate
always only a few until one year there comes a bloom

a moon jelly bloom when they’re everywhere impossible to avoid
shredding them with the boat’s propeller
not looking back picturing them torn into fragments
like so many pieces of floating toilet paper

every day i return home to hundreds of jellies
dimpling the water’s surface like rain
were i to brave the cold water, dive among them
they’d slide away, oblivious
slooping around my limbs pulsations barely pausing
my kicks and strokes tumbling them about
in their birthright of slow chaos

i wish they’d crowd their cool soft bodies up to mine
wish i could say i’ve been swarmed by moon jellies
wish I could say i’ve been to a moon jelly love-in
ecstatic in the slippery translucent animals

last night i saw them gathered under their fully waxed namesake
embers of moonlight-on-jelly breaking black water
lighting up the bay
their surface-bobbing like visual morse code

the same pattern i’d seen when raindrops
fell onto a dark ocean
their tiny splashes sparking to life

the pulsing creatures ascended
to a meeting of worlds:
water   salt   jelly   air
darkness    moonlight    outer space
all these years & finally i can say
i have seen the moon jelly ritual
jellies gathering to kiss air
kiss the moon
become moonlight

Christine Lowther

Marlene Cummings photo

We have another Tofino poet for you this month, my friends. Christine Lowther is a noted Canadian writer of poetry and prose,  and is a fellow member of the Clayoquot Writers Group.  I would love to be able to put my love of and reverence for nature into words as eloquently as Christine does. Her poetry is imbued with her deep love of the natural world. She lives in close connection with the wild, on her floathouse a short boat ride away from Tofino. This is the setting of her poem, as she dives off her dock to swim among the jellyfish.

Linda Baril photo

Chris has lived in Clayoquot Sound since 1992. Her mother is the noted poet, Pat Lowther, whom Chris lost as a result of spousal homicide when she was seven years old. This traumatic event lies at the heart of some of her deepest work, notably her first poetry collection: New Power. Her most recent nonfiction book, Born Out of This, charts her journey from this terrible loss, through foster homes, punk rock, and lifelong activism, to the life she has created in the heart of nature on her floathouse in the Sound.

I find similarities in  the writings of mother and daughter. Each has a distinct and unique voice. Both love the wild; this love  illuminates  their writing. Pat Lowther's work still lives, and is quoted and respected  many years after her death. I believe her daughter's work will also stand the test of time.

Chris's writing sings through the soul. She truly "sees" the small and large beauties of the natural world and, when she writes about them, we see them, too, with appreciative and awakened eyes. Chris was arrested at the blockades in 1992, standing for the trees. She still advocates on their behalf as Tofino struggles with the thorny conflicting issues of development and preservation. Her activism and the conscientious, respectful way she lives on Mother Earth inspires me. She is one of my heroes.

Chris was co-editor of two anthologies, Writing the West Coast: In Love With Place, and Living Artfully: Reflections on the Far West Coast, and has three poetry collections New Power, Half-Blood Poems and My Nature. Her most recent book is the memoir, Born Out of  This.

Christine's website can be found here, and more information about her books can be found  on the site. Her author page is at

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


  1. Good morning, poetry friends. I hope you are enjoying meeting Canadian poets. As you can see, I don't have to go very far to find them. Smiles. In winter, when the weather is too wild to be at the float, Chris lives right down the hall from me. Lucky me!

  2. What a wonderful article, Sherry. I can certainly feel Chris' love and appreciation of nature (in this case, specifically jellyfish) in her poem. It was interesting to learn a bit about her background. It definitely has shaped her into a strong, motivated, expressive woman!

  3. I think the word is spectacular!!! I also wish I had written this. So beautiful, moon jellies...moonlight and jelly fish! Thank you so much and loved to look at her photo! Makes her seem almost "real." Thanks so much Sherry. Your are lucky to have such a hero!!

  4. I'm currently reading one of Annie Dillard's books, "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"' in which she expresses her love of nature, her wonder and appreciation even of animals and insects that behave in strange ways. This poem complements and enriches my reading. Christine's poem is so full of genuine awe of creation.
    Once again, you've made a wonderful selection Sherry.

  5. What a wonderful and beyond beauty world this poem presents! One could see the poet's love for this. Thank you so much for the share Sherry.

  6. How we delight in falling in love with other creatures that share this world we live in. Whether it sea creatures in the oceans, birds in the sky or animals in the forests it is such a joy to be part of their world. Chris really takes us with her in her words and I am so pleased you have featured here today Sherry.

  7. What a gorgeous poem! And I love that the poet has taken her mother's words as inspiration. In Australia we don''t swim with jellyfish – much too afraid of the deadly ones known as Stingers. The idea of them 'crowding their soft bodies uo to mine' is the stuff of horror stories. It's a great tribute to this poet's ability that by the time I'd finished the poem she had convinced me that jellyfish can be not only beautiful, but adorable playmates too.

  8. Thanks for introducing me to another delightful poet and all around wonderful person....indeed lucky you, Sherry!

  9. It was my pleasure, my friends. Chris always says I am her biggest fan, as I receive her poems with such rapture. Smiles. She writes nature in ways that help us see the small miracles we are surrounded by. So happy you enjoyed it.

  10. What a beautiful piece. I think I could float away on that mesmeric close. A fascinating - and achingly sad - backstory. I was introduced to the poetry of Pat Lowther, by you, Sherry - and yes, it does echo here. Thank you for this.

  11. Wow! I see them all as Lowther describes them. Wonder full. And the poet is a fascinating person as well.


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