Fragments of neither one thing nor the other

For Earthweal, Solstice, Nadir and all the rest.

Fragments of neither one thing nor the other

When the fog is all,
the blanket that soaks the light not pearl, not silver,
just the washings of dirty rags,
there is neither night nor day.

There’s a moon there, but no one sees.
We stand in the entrance to the holy place,
and winter chills the marrow,
wrings the hands. Nothing;

no one sings or breathes at this balancing point.
Will you stay? I won’t ask, beg.
You sip your drink, tap your foot out of time,
and I know the answer.

All questions have the same source,
dip deep enough into the well,
stir the salmon with hazelnut pelting,
and listen to the ancient lisping—

on this night we topple into the winter cold,
the dark half not even half-over.
I find your hand, fingers frozen,
an owl calls, fox answers, the world turns.

Winter chimes

For the earthweal solstice bell challenge.


No bells rang here to break up the cloud
with silver sound, the echoing notes
of rivers flowing beneath earth and rock,
weaving veined chords from then
to now and beyond.

Sky squatted dark and heavy-jowled on the hill,
swallowed moon and stars, and how will we know
the time, how measure this great darkness,
how know when it has ended?

No bells rang to summon or alarm,
but the hart, sharp-hoofed, ran about the house
across the weeping grass and leapt the ditch.
Fox slipped through a fox hole, while the rain fell
cold as an empty seat in an empty house.

No bells rang here, no call to bow the head,
only the bull-bellow of the wind
that marks the turning of the world from dark
to light, and whether tomorrow comes bright
or grey as the pits of the sea,
the robin will sing in a poplar tree.

Haibun for a coming

For Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge.


The year begins in darkness, deepening relentlessly, rising like a black tide higher with every turn of the earth, until the solstice, and the tide is halted, ebbs, time hangs in suspense on the horizon’s rim and the sun that rises is the triumph of day over night, Sol Invictus.

winter cold bites

gnaws bitter bones

beneath the snow

shoots roots uncurl­—


#writephoto: The sun’s gift

A short story promoted by Sue Vincent”s lovely photo.


She had been proud when they chose her to become the spring. For a week she was treated like a queen, carried on a litter so her feet would not have to touch the ground, dressed in clothes so fine a goddess would not have been ashamed of them. It was a week of feasting and dancing and the fires burned long into the night. They gave her mead to drink, heady and potent. Unused to such strong liquor she was in a permanent daze of happiness. Even the December cold was banished as her blood raced like a fiery torrent.

On the longest night of the year, the night that marked the turning point, when the sun would grow ever stronger, when the sun should grow ever stronger, they tied her to the tree. She was the spring. She was the one who would call back the sun after the long night. If there was no one to call, the sun may decide never to rise again. The idea terrified her, even more than the thought of being left alone in the darkness.

Truth be told, they had given her a beverage both bitter and sweet that made her head swim even more than the mead had done, and she barely felt the cords that bound her tight. They passed lengths of ivy over the cords so she looked wrapped in bright greenery. They had taken away the goddess garments and dressed her in her old clothes with a cloak to keep away the cold. She had been helpless as a baby, laughing at her erratic movements as the women struggled to get the shift over her head.

She was not laughing now. The effects of the beverage had faded and she no longer felt her hands. She no longer felt her feet, but her face prickled with cold until it hurt. The ivy cords bit into her flesh, but she no longer felt the rough bark that scraped and pitted her back. Her hair was tangled with the ivy, and her head was trapped in the green leaves and the oak bark.

She moved her eyes, to look eastwards to where a pale light was growing. Her heart pounded and it seemed to echo from deep within the tree. The sun was rising. Pride had dissipated in the dawn mists, replaced by terror. She had called the sun! There could be no doubt; the god had heard. She had called the sun back from the darkness and into darkness she must go in his stead.

She squeezed her eyes tight closed, but tears crept from the corners and ran down her cheeks. They ran down her cheeks and pooled in the corners of her mouth. She licked them away. Not salt. Sweet and sticky. Honey dew. The sun rose, pale and magnificent and the breeze sighed in the bare branches. Birds peered at her without fear. The breeze sighed, like breath, soft and warm, and the ivy wrapped her gently, as she sank into the warm, comforting embrace of the oak tree.

A Christmas wish


Earth turns to face its longest night

carrying us furthest from the sun

and cities fill with light to chase the dark,

take our fears and give us tinsel in exchange.

But when the longest night is done

and we journey back towards the brighter days

let us not forget the dark that lies in wait

should tinsel take the place of wonder and respect,

not take the earth into the endless night

but bring all things to birth in another spring.