The wild November come at last
Beneath a veil of rain;
The night winds blows its folds aside,
Her face is full of pain.
The latest of her race, she takes
The Autumn’s vacant throne:
She has but one short moon to live,
And she must live alone.
A barren realm of withered fields
Bleak woods of fallen leaves,
The palest morns that ever dawned,
The dreariest of eves:
It is no wonder that she comes
Poor month, with tears of pain:
But what can one so hopeless do,
But weep, and weep again?
~Richard Henry Stoddard “November”
November is here,
having swept in on rain and wind,
leaving a mess of sorrow and silt in its wake,
a reminder of our fragility and need for shelter
from the storms of life.
Blown off course,
drenched to the marrow,
pining for the light lost
to the advancing calendar,
we hunker down in place,
burrowing in for the long dark winter.
It is coming,
this veil of tears.
It is coming,
these night winds blowing away
our shield and protection.
It is coming,
this new moon forgetting how to shine.
Our light illuminates from within,
ignited and irrepressible,
fueled by an overflowing abundance
of gentle loving and tender mercies.
Echo of the clocktower, footstep
in the alleyway, sweep
of the wind sifting the leaves.
Jeweller of the spiderweb, connoisseur
of autumn’s opulence, blade of lightning
harvesting the sky.
Keeper of the small gate, choreographer
of entrances and exits, midnight
whisper traveling the wires.
Seducer, healer, deity or thief,
I will see you soon enough—
in the shadow of the rainfall,
in the brief violet darkening a sunset—
but until then I pray watch over him
as a mountain guards its covert ore
and the harsh falcon its flightless young.
~Dana Gioia “Prayer”
(written in memory of his infant son who died of SIDS)
When we think of those who wait for us on the other side,
including our baby lost before birth 35 years ago…
Who then will we long for when it comes our time to wait?
I know there is One who watches over all these reunions,
knowing the moment when my fractured heart
heals whole once again.
I will see you soon enough.
Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.
Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.
Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,
Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:
We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.
~Sylvia Plath from “Mushroom”
This overnight overture,
a parturition of “ink caps” after a rain.
As if seed had been sprinkled on the manure pile,
they sprout three inch stalks
still stretching at dawn,
topped by dew-catching caps and umbrellas.
Nearly translucent as glass,
already curling at the edges in the morning light,
by noon melting into black ooze
by evening complete deliquescence,
withered and curling back
into the humus
which birthed them hours before.
It shall be repeated
again and again,
this birth from muck,
a brief and shining life,
and dying back to dung.
It is the way of things
to never give up
once a foot’s in the door.
spoke to me
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing
under a tree.
the long and wondrous journeys
still to be ours.
~Mary Oliver from “Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me”
Our rainfall this week was met with joy and relief, refreshing what had waited all summer parched and dry and dying.
Too little too late.
Across the country and in other parts of the world, this week’s rainfall caused flooding and destruction, threatening homes and lives.
Too much too soon.
This life’s too little/too much journeys are frightening, wondrous and arduous.
And this journey, this life, is ours to travel. Let us pray for a little more just right.
Even at noon the house is dark.
In my room under the eaves
I hear the steady benevolence
of water washing dust
raised by the haying
from porch and car and garden
and purified, as if tonsured.
The grass resolves to grow again,
receiving the rain to that end,
but my disordered soul thirsts
after something it cannot name.
~Jane Kenyon from “August Rain, After Haying”
A long-awaited string of rainy days have arrived and like the ground and plants, I look skyward letting the clouds drip on me and I am washed of dust.
Will I restore like the brown and dying blade of grass, turning green and lush in a matter of days?
Is there enough benevolence from the sky to cleanse and settle the grime, and still yield more harvest of food and fodder? Will this replenish my soul enough that I can resolve to grow again?
I thirst for what I cannot name. The mystery is, I’m filled, left dripping and ready.
Open the window, and let the air
Freshly blow upon face and hair,
And fill the room, as it fills the night,
With the breath of the rain’s sweet might.
Not a blink shall burn to-night
In my chamber, of sordid light;
Nought will I have, not a window-pane,
‘Twixt me and the air and the great good rain,
Which ever shall sing me sharp lullabies;
And God’s own darkness shall close mine eyes;
And I will sleep, with all things blest,
In the pure earth-shadow of natural rest.
The rain returned briefly this weekend – a blissful reminder of God’s intent to refresh and replenish us when we are at our driest.
It is sweet to fall asleep listening in the dark to the patter of raindrops after weeks of drought.
I’ll make sure to remember the relief I felt these nights while grumbling and sloshing around in the fortieth day of rain this winter.
When will I be satisfied there is enough but not too much?
~~when God’s own darkness closes my eyes in natural rest and His glory opens my eyes to the illumination of eternity.
In the meantime, let it rain – preferably as I sleep.
Green was the silence, wet was the light
the month of June trembled like a butterfly
~Pablo Neruda from “Sonnet XL”
We are now four days into summer but aside from the date on the calendar, it would be difficult to prove otherwise. After a dry stretch of warm late spring weather, it is now unseasonably cool, the skies stony gray, the rivers running full and fast, the ground peppered with puddles. Rain fell hard last night, hiding behind the cover of darkness as if ashamed of itself. As it should be.
What all this moisture will yield is acres and acres of towering grass growth, more grass than imaginable, more grass than we can keep mowed, burying the horses up to their backs as they dive head long into the pasture. The Haflingers don’t need to lower their necks to graze, choosing instead to simply strip off the ripe tops of the grasses as they forge paths through five foot forage. It is like children at a birthday party swiping the frosting off cupcake after cupcake, licking their fingers as they go. Instead of icing, the horses’ muzzles are smeared with dandelion fluff, grass seed and buttercup petals.
In the northwest, June can tend to shroud its promise of longer days under clouds. Outdoor weddings brace for rain and wind with a supply of umbrellas, graduation potlucks are served in the garage and Fourth of July picnics stay safely under cover. There is a wary anticipation of solstice as it signals the slow inexorable return of darkness from which we have not yet fully recovered.
So I tremble as I too splash through the squishiness of late June, quivering like a wet butterfly emerging from its cocoon ready to unfurl its wings to dry, but unsure how to fly and uncertain of the new world that awaits. In fact the dark empty cocoon can look mighty inviting on a rainy June night or during a loud mid-day thunderstorm. If I could manage to squeeze myself back in, it might be worth a try.
After all, there is no place like home.