Poem by Ian McCallum: Wilderness

Tales from the Bush

The words and wisdom that Dr Ian McCallum recently shared with us in a Facebook Live have robed us with reassurance in our emergence from the Covid-19 world crisis. We have been navigating our way through unknown landscapes and experiences, forcing us to re-evaluate our priorities and remind of our roots, teaching ourselves to listen and trust in our reciprocal relationship with nature. It is to nature we turn to seek for answers, taking inspiration in the midst of a crisis – learning about the art of survival.


We gather the values of resilience and awareness, being reminded to expect anything, and assume nothing, with the underlying knowledge that we are a part of nature – the human expression of our biodiverse world. We are shaped by our experiences and adversities – by the geographies of our childhoods and our relationship with the wilderness. With a calm disposition based on the fundamental knowledge that we are inherently connected to nature, Dr McCallum reminds us of the beauty and importance of coming home to our wild spaces, and this uncertainty that we have currently experienced is a part of our evolution and growth. In this, we are reminded to be aware and be kind, as we are all fighting a fierce battle, and we are all in this together.

We ended off our Facebook Live with a beautiful poem written by Dr McCallum – and after the many requests, we’re sharing it below.

Poem by Ian McCallum

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?

Since when
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?

By whose command were the animals
through groping fingers,
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?

Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us
carried by tides of earthly blood
and that we named them?

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a season …
and that we are in its
final hour?

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