Camino de Santiago – Journey of the Dead, Day 23

A woman changes her newborn in the open air

            next to the felled oak
            where the moss grows thick as thunder

Wind shakes the copse as the infant looks up

            into the undulating branches
            feels a mother’s breath on its brow

When she smiles the child’s heart beats

            in tandem with hers
            and in the tree’s rings

a song of human hours plays back

            on the grooves
            softer than the sound leaves make

when they inhale our breath

            Life makes a fool of death’s edges —
            that’s all we know


Lois Reads: Camino de Santiago – Journey of the Dead, Day 23

Picture: Nino Khundadze (Georgia)

Music: Tamir Hendelman (USA)

Poem: Lois P. Jones (USA)

Picture: Dean Pasch (Germany)

Nino writes about her picture (Eagle)

There is a moment, when everything that was dragging you down changes its color, because you chose to look at it differently, and in that moment, it all becomes the best ground to start your flight. To spread your wings and fly like you have never done before.

Tamir writes about his piece of music

In early April, shortly before LA went into lockdown, I went on a solitary hike in a little-known park north of Los Angeles. The shock of the world coming to a standstill from an invisible new presence needed processing and a visit to nature felt like a way of making sense of it all.

The streets and freeways were empty, and the air was unusually clear. Passing by citrus trees ripe with fruit at the park’s entrance, the few people I encountered soon made way for a view of bees darting through wildflowers down a desert path, then a slow climb. From atop a hill I climbed, you could see twenty miles south to downtown LA. Following the spring rains, the surprising view was of a verdant mini-Grand Canyon in front of me, with the city in the distance. Bird song was in the air. Somehow, Earth was having a chance to breathe. In the stillness of the moment, from that vantage point, I got an inkling of the magnitude of change about to happen. At the same time, at that elevation, I was comforted by the explosion of natural life, bird song, and peaceful scenery.

And the thought came to me: Nature finds a way.

Lois Writes About Her Poem

About a month into Covid, I joined a virtual Camino de Santiago while sheltering in place. The Camino is an ancient network of pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. The curator of this group, Amy Gigi Alexander, having guided several real Caminos as well as virtual excursions, curated a beautiful journey rich with maps, photographs, details of local cuisine and culture, daily miles to travel and significant sites along the way. Most importantly, the trip was as much an inner journey as an outer one. A person who steps foot on the Camino is not the same person when they reach the end. These daily suggestions inspired by literary and religious figures were the seeds for letting go of things you cannot control, gratitude for what is given, the necessity of persistence and more. Why the journey of the dead? I imagined the many who died from Covid were on this Camino trail alongside the living, sharing their insights and observations.

Artists are innate pilgrims, always on a journey of the mind. All thanks again to Amy Gigi Alexander for her generosity, wisdom and care on the long road of the living and those who have moved beyond.


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