An Imbolc poem for earthweal.
Days of water
nights of rushing wind
and only thoughts of fire.
Winter runs in these cold streams,
dull browns and mud-grey,
sodden with cloud-spill.
No light, bright and sharp
as whetted steel,
no gold glints among the weeds
or the mud-stirred ditches;
winter runs still
in these cold veins,
only the birds,
colour of sunglitter and holly berries,
dance to the music of Brigid’s footsteps,
settle on the budding twig-snap
of her fiery fingers.
So blue the morning
rises from the frost
dark the water
beneath the ice
still the world
behind cold glass
For the earthweal open link weekend.
This is a time of waiting
for the light then the lit fire
the cold chased into the far corners
and the sun to rise perhaps
above the banks of fog.
Of waiting for the night
then open on a million stars
and the cold to sharpen like
badger claws in the frozen bank
A cold time of watching
for signs that warm is swelling
the quick bursts of birdwings
and tracks through the frost.
This is a time of dark brilliance
shadows behind the sharp edge
of every blade, a blood-slowing deep time
and I long for it to end.
And all the roses frozen
caught tight in winter’s tide
the soft white fur belies
the death inside
touched by cold sun
I walked a way beneath tall trees
path thick with fallen leaves
and bright with still water
where only deer had walked before
and stepping in their scrapes of bare black earth
where acorns sprout in tender green
I walked in the footsteps of giants.
Posting this one to earthweal.
Cold comes in the answer
and snow in the wind,
furrows fill with white, while
growling incandescence consumes
branch and twig
in our invocation of the sun we have lost
in the dark night of winter.
In the morning,
the embers cold and pitted with deer tracks,
ash streams, the wind still bitter.
Ice cracks in the north
with a dark voice full of teeth,
and in the wood
a thrush is singing.
Light pours, spreads
like melted butter,
silent as ice floes
across this winter,
with the sharp, dry callouses
of clawed bird feet,
clinging to life’s thread.
where other warm life spills,
this human part
and parcel of earth
behind cold glass.
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.
Black the day of damp and squally rain
though the grass sea is still
and only the trees complain
of creaking joints
and about the house
a constant twitter of scavengers
bright-winged bright-tongued darting
from rose hips to the sad-leafed hornbeam.
Yet though the bird-mist colours
a wreath of red-blooded feathered life
black is still the cloud leaking its bellied rain
into the furrows
and the world sighs
between the loss of the sun
and the birthing of unseen roots.
winter starts here
in undefined colours damp-smeared
and dipping in and out
of the universal grey-green
the bright piping of undeterred birds