For America

One of the articles in Rediscovering The North American Vision (IC#3)
Originally published in Summer 1983 on page 43
Copyright (c)1983, 1996 by Context Institute


I have sought as Mars seeks the sun.
I have sought without despair
the highest thing,
the star, the angel in the rose,
to come to it by whatever path compelled me,
and to take it: the seed,
the sun, the god,
and become it.

I have sought in this life
as Venus, as the woman seeks,
to give myself entirely
to the highest thing.
And being strong in the frailer, enduring way
of the Mother in all that grows
of the earth,
I have sought to lay myself down before some god,
the sun, the very seed in me,
and to love this thing.

I. Rebellion

America, America,
you have forsaken me.
I sought the gods in you,
in your hills, in your amber waves
I sought.
My soul thirsted, it weakened,
it had a pinched look.

I did not give up,
O endless roads,
O indolent skies,
but you were a desert to me.
I knew the magic that gives water
from stones, and I chanted over you,
I threatened you,
I pleaded with you,
but you were a dry rock, America.

I blamed you, America,
I loathed you, I feared you.
I shouted:
I will not bring children into this world
because of you.
I lost my way.

I transgressed against your laws, America,
and was not repentant.
I went to jail because I sat down
in a government building and would not remove myself
when asked.
I sat in the offices of mind-readers
who asked me why&how&when
I was afraid, and took sharp things
from my pockets,
and in their way
they worried for me.

I loved men, I loved women,
I loved children and dogs.
I studied witchcraft through the mails,
I stood on my head, I refused to eat,
I wept during blessing without cause.
I dropped acid, I dropped out,
I dropped over for coffee
at Jesus’ place. I looked for Jesus Christ,
I looked for God and heaven
until my eyes failed.
I did not find them.

I longed to be immersed.

I courted you, America.
I wanted it to work.
You were born in July, You’re a Cancer
and I am a Taurus –
it should be easy for us…

I cursed you by day, America,
land of the strangers,
and I thought I stood free of you,
but in the night, my dreams spoke sternly
to me.
They called me by name and I understood:
I had struggled against my own grip.
My hatred had bound my soul to you.
The clock moved, a season turned
in me.
I who am a child of yearning
have been so slow in my life
to see clearly.

And my teachers must be vigilant,
unyielding with my slow ways.
America, you have taught me well.

I sing to you now
because I am leaving.

II. Exile

I sought those who were like me,
living in America, secretly exiled,
seeking and dreaming the new thing,
and then dreaming and living it in full daylight,
and then making the new thing,
crooked at first.

Times of triumph, times of fear,
the urgent times when you appeared, America,
in your destroyer aspect.
Seeking refuge in one another
we played our necessary games:
we became mothers and children,
we played Knowers of Truth and
Givers of Certainty
for each other.

Sometimes we had to lie in this:
for a time, for the transition,
between the dying we had escaped
and the dream not yet born,
in the groundless zone, and only for a time
we made small lies to comfort one another.

And they were not lies, but the affirming
of a hope.
What we told each other
gave bodies to the gods.

I sought those who were like me,
and we made quest for the white unicorn.
We were drawn together, all exiles
in the same country,
we were drawn together by the unicorn,
because he is just ahead somewhere,
in some place we have not found,
and in not finding yet
we were together.
And we call upon each our magic
and our gods,
to call him into being, the graceful dream,
the creature of a kinder world.

In all our languages,
we insisted that the universe
was a vast amazing place.

In the exile, we sang more urgently,
our power to dream increased
and led us like a sacrament.

III. Baptism

It is a difficult time,
coming to ourselves:
the flaming and dying of autumn,
the outward sleep of winter, solitary,
waiting for the vision,
and then the seed of spring, (the vision it does come,
the one we shall choose our lives around,
that it may grow.)

Then I remembered what I had always known:
how the unicorn is won.
The gentlest and purest of creatures,
he comes only to a maiden pure in heart.
Remember how he cannot resist her?
how, called forth by something as pure as himself
in her, astonished and charmed,
he lays his radiant head in her lap.

When you have loved something so much
that there is no difference between you anymore,
it is yours,
and nothing
in heaven or earth can keep it from you.

And so
to bring the unicorn,
and because I could do no other thing,
I turned my eye within
to my heart’s strange universe
and began that most quietly consecrated movement:
changing my life.

IV. Love

America, America,
you are not the enemy.
In this struggle, you are only
the blood-colored ground.
In this revolution of the heart
you also shall be freed.

I see you, America,
your purple mountains, your pay toilets,
and your loud, sad commercials.
This is your rakish dress, O adolescent land,
and now in some way
I cannot help loving you,
because you are so inappropriate,
you are so brash and precarious
and young.

I recognize your power to destroy
When I am free from it, from your pathos
and your desperate promises,
then I will turn back to you
as one of your healers.

Because of you I sought myself.
In spite of you the discovery has begun.
Nothing is now as it ever has been.

I am the priestess, invoking spirit into the world.
For your sake, America,
I am the midwife at the breech birth
of your Age. And what appears to be destroyed
is under metamorphosis.
I am the Mother at this incandescent moment.
And what seems to be suffering
is under initiation.

I will sing to you because I have forgiven you.
America, I wrestled with you
and you were not the angel.
You were as broken as 1.
Now take my hand,
the sleeping in me stirs.
America, the birthing has begun.


Liana Herbertson lives in a small community a few miles south of the Colorado border in Taos County, New Mexico.

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