Posts Tagged ‘solstice’

Poetry Challenge 50

June 22, 2010

In honor of the solstice and the delirious quantity of light we’re getting these days, write from a giddy place.  Think of a time or place or color of the clouds that made you feel silly and happy all at once.  For me, last night, it was a Midnight Sun Baseball Game that went 15 innings under the silvery light of Solstice night.  We sat in the stands and hollered and laughed as the sun slipped behind a row of hills, still sending a wash of yellow light into the arc of the sky.  Then as the last hit brought all the runners in, the light behind the hills brightened, the cirrus clouds turned fireweed pink and the sun slid back up again.  A perfect–if very long–solstice night.

Write about a moment of unexpected glee.  Use all five senses, of course.

Post it as a comment and I’ll post it here.

Poetry Challenge 35

December 22, 2009

In honor of the turning of the year–past the solstice and heading for a new year and new decade, go back to something you wrote long ago and look at it again.  Find something you like about it and give it a fresh start–either rewriting from the seed of the old material,  or just dusting it off and reading it with new eyes, as my old friend Larry Laraby did with this poem:

The Light Waits (a winter solstice poem)

The inexorable movement of darkness
Slow accumulation of night
We gather the multitude of dark hours
And cast them to the sun
Light waits behind the closed
Doors of winter
Light that waits to dance
That waits to sing
The sun’s day
In that immense moment
The earth stops its turning
And we celebrate
The retreating night.

(Thanks, Larry!)


A Response from Glow:

“At dawn she went to the ridge to wait.”

For years, I have wondered
why she waited
and for what?
Did her wait turn fruitful?
Did she come, did the letter arrive, was the child born?
The news arrive? The medicine turn up? The mystery solved?

There is a drawing,
the title is the mystery phrase:
at dawn she went to the ridge to wait.
butch dyke in a woman’s cloak
a stout walking stick held before her
a tiny grassland village hunched on the ridge
folded into the valley below her.

For me the mystery is double.
I both wrote the title and drew the drawing.
I do not know what either mean.
Only that I, too, will eventually recognize
the ridge in the drawing
it will manifest into reality some dawn
I will grasp my sturdy walking stick
climb up the hill in the early twilight
and wait.

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

December 22, 2009

The solstice has turned—now, incrementally, we’re heading to brighter days. It has been a tough fall in the Interior. Each of us has experienced it in different ways that have accumulated gradually, but definitely, so that any two of us meeting at Fred Meyers near the mesh bags of tiny oranges, would find ourselves saying, “It’s been a rough fall,” and nodding, saying nothing for a beat, then moving the conversation along to the turning year.

I’m not sure where the run of bad luck started for me. Was it returning from two weeks in New Jersey to find an old friend and ally struck down in his dining room—the true meaning of stroke—and getting there in time to attend his cremation ceremony? Was it the day I knew the whole stack of hay had molded? Was it learning that my dancer son had been sucker punched while doing a good deed? Was it the other deaths and illnesses that seemed to accumulate as we head into the dark time of year?

Living in the Interior makes us survivors. We think nothing of going out and living our lives at twenty, thirty, forty below. We layer up and plug in our cars. We leave no skin exposed. Walking out to feed the horses in the dark of morning at twenty below, I begin to judge temperature by what freezes. Nose hairs: twenty below, eyelashes: thirty below, scarf to face, including nose and eyelashes: forty below. We know how far we can go without danger of hypothermia. We know how long our fingers can manipulate the metal hooks on the horse blanket before we have to run for the warmth of the house to warm hands and gloves, so we can go out and blanket another horse.

It makes a difference to my attitude to spend time outside. Though I rarely see Mattie and Sam in daylight as the fall semester winds down, there are those moments in the morning when I trudge out sleepy-eyed, yawning in the cold air, and watch the light spread on the southern horizon over the fold of the Alaska Range. It’s just past night at 9:30 or 10, on the days I can sleep that late, and the horizon is a deep smoky orange, the sky nearly black.

Today, the last day of grading final papers, I woke even later, still tired from finals week and the near constant reading of student writing. As I walked out, there was a blue-gray light in the sky, just enough to see without turning on the floodlights. Jeter, the still-adolescent poodle, went bounding on ahead as I got Mattie and Sam’s morning armfuls of hay. The air had warmed to nearly zero, and I could feel the returning moisture in the air. Mattie’s back was covered with frost and shavings as she waited for me to toss her hay.

After I threw the hay to each of them, I ducked under the fence, dog in the lead, and walked over to scratch Sam on the neck under his mane. His coat is out to my second knuckle now, dense and warm. I took a flake of hay and divided it into two parts to tuck in two old tires in the corral. They like to eat from the tires, then flip them in the air, looking for scraps of hay. As I walked back into Mattie’s side of the corral, I heard a sharp “Caw” and sensed motion above me. I looked up to see a half dozen ravens circling in the air.

The sky was lightening, the ravens dark against the gray sky. They circled on an eddy of air, catching up to and tumbling around each other. It seemed like one raven led the circling—a choreographer of air—as they glided and flapped and glided again, all in a slow gyre above my head.

Later, I read a poem by Yeats that used that word, “gyre,” his word for the order or was it disorder inherent in the world. These ravens didn’t seem to be playing, though they didn’t seem dreary or even to be hunting. They almost seemed to be circling me and the horses and the dog, as if we were an audience for their art, and all they wanted was to be seen by us. It was as if they were caught in the eddy at the heart of the turning year and were dramatizing it—the essence of solstice—right above my corral.

Or maybe they were waiting for us to leave so they could snack on manure. In any case, a happy solstice to you: the return of light, the slow draining out of darkness from the coming new year.

Poetry Challenge 24

June 23, 2009

Rain after Solstice

Just at the time when we have the most sunlight here and the garden is growing towards our first harvest, we get rain, a slow pattering that lasts all day and filters the light to a day-long dusk. We are happy our gardens are watered, but it’s not what we expected.

So, write about a day, a moment, a conversation that takes an unexpected turn. And be sure to add in the weather.

Poetry Challenge 23

June 17, 2009


As the days here lengthen to an extreme, each hour of the day has a different kind of light, from the brilliant light of mid-day to the pastel and silver light of the long dusky evenings.

Write a poem starting with some effect of light you notice right now where you are.  Notice how light affects the plants and rocks and clouds.  How does it affect animals, people, you? And what else?


Here’s a response from Glow at Beyond Ester:

the mercury light
keeps me awake since May.
Much happens at night that I witness.
All other humans sleep
but the devil light keeps sleep at bay
so I become Witness of What Occurs
cats, drowse all night
dogs snore and twitch
voles slither among the weeds
male moose, pale brown withers
slinks through the willows
mistaken for a grizzly
until his antlers startle recognition.
mama moose and 3 week calf
slumbering among the bluebells
even the dogs missed them
I, alone, witnessed the fidgeting nursing
the aggressive butting of the calf to its mom’s teats
the mercury light warming towards dawn
to leak goldeness on the calf so that she shone
like an angel
raven swooped low to snatch a young squirrel
still living, unaware of impending doom
its tail still curled, but fruitless now
mosquito, after mosquito, after mosquito
snared in the window spider’s web
reduced to dry shells within seconds
after their twitching ends.
Life, birth, death, bones, dust.
Summer light arrives, soon to leave us
aching for more time
aching for less light
fruitless wishes. Predictable humans
with their love of warmth, but
need for the dark.

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