Catherine Landis

contributor to 2 posters

  • Sumac Growing Wild


    Sumac Growing Wild

    One summer day I was passing through Columbus Circle, with its ring of exotic ornamental plants blooming in garish reds and pinks. Right there amongst them, a staghorn sumac had taken root as though reasserting its original territorial rights—tall, gangly, fuzzy stem.

    This native plant had found its way (seed maybe dropped by a bird) to the circle of Columbus, Euro-conqueror of the “New” (to him) World. As though pioneering flora like this brave plant are trying to heal over the scars of the urban concretized landscape, the European legacy of Columbus and his heirs.

    Someday, a forest. Someday, today, nature will prevail, though someone undoubtedly would come along to yank this “weed” from the circle. Our city is temporary. Once a cedar swamp, it will someday return to forest, or (if the climate warms as predicted), a prairie or even desert.

  • 2005 Poster: Heron Stands Upright


    Heron Stands Upright

    I go to the Zen Center, in the Valley, for sitting meditation. After sittings, I often walk along Onondaga Creek, especially in the summer, when there's no snow there.

    So I was walking along the creek and crossed a little footbridge. I was standing on the footbridge, looking upstream, and I saw a heron. It was standing there so still—the way they do, with the beak held horizontal—with the stream water flowing around its legs.

    The line I wrote was, “tail feathers brush stream waters,” but it was the other way around, actually stream water brushing tail feathers. Somehow, between the stillness of the bird and the motion of the stream, I just found it very beautiful.

    So that's what happened: I did the sitting, I came out and did the walk, and there was my teacher, standing perfectly still.