I sip the fading winter light
Through branches bare where songbirds flit
And taste the gathered clouds of night,
The waterfalls of fires lit
Along the empty stubbled fields.
In outstretched hand I catch a spark
Of starlight that the hunter wields,
Orion striding through the dark
With starry dog at beck and call.
I hear the windsong in the trees,
The whistling thrush, the thunder fall
And race the sun with humming bees,
But in the cracking, splitting cold,
I hear the song of years grown old.
This piece was written for Margo Roby’s Tuesday poem tryouts. The theme, Lights Out, is electricity outage, power cuts to us Europeans. Yes, I know, it isn’t a poem. I misread that bit. However, this is what the prompt inspired, poetry or not.
Nothing seemed to trouble the calm flow of existence in those far off days of childhood. There was snow in the winter, sunshine in the summer, plants grew and bees hummed. School was a steady, necessary evil, and the future stretched no further than the weekend. Time flowed slowly, at walking pace, or at its fastest, the speed of an old red bus. There were grandparents, scones on Sundays, Mass and family visits.
Then something called the Three Day Week struck and Dad was at home at funny times of day, the menus changed and there was rarely any meat in them. But the most momentous change was ‘the power cut’. We had night then, real night, black and velvety. And stars. I loved those winter nights of black out, with the open fire and candles indoors. Outdoors, the world was full of the brilliance of the big stars, and the fainter flickering lights of the Milky Way. There were gas balls or ball lightning or UFOs that floated up the dark lane before disappearing into the glittering blackness, and a family of foxes grew brave enough to come and play on the starlit lawn.
The night became a beautiful, mysterious place, and I learned that Orion cartwheeled across the sky each night, a guardian angel, watching over the house on the hill. I sit here, in another house, far away from that childhood hill, while Orion still watches and waits. And I still follow the ballet of the stars, each night bringing me closer to piercing the mystery of what lies at the end of the dance.
I made a wish on this last night of the year
When the stars are so bright and cold
And the moon hangs, almost full in the great soft darkness.
I wished that all this beauty could be enough
That the cold stars, the pale glowing moon,
The silver-plated branches of the empty vine
Will replace all that is ugly and bitter,
Tasteless and trite, in the daily battle.
I made a wish on a bright star
Dangling from the trapezoid of Orion
As he spins his slow cartwheels across the sky
That when the sun rises again
And lights with pale golden beams
The dirt and unthinking waste that lies at every hand,
I will still feel the dark softness of the deep sky,
See the cold, pure brilliance
Of the dangling star
And that it will be enough.
Bright white light
But not quite
* * * *
the black velvety night
a star on each shoulder
his belt the light of a million worlds
and at his feet
the brash puddle of the city.
* * * *
So many stars the sky’s net is full
* * * *
Cat on the wall
stares at the stars
not returning their distant winking
dreaming of sunlight
and the tremulous softness of birds
* * * *
full of toiling clouds
etched in silver
by the wandering moon