As I Stand Here, Empty Handed

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Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?
~Mary Oliver, The Sun

 

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On this day of transition
we stand together, wavering,
barely balancing
on the cusp of light and shadow~

this knowledge of a now diminishing sun
rests heavy in my bones as I struggle
with letting this glorious light
slip through my fingers~
I stand empty-handed
as I attend to less important things.

As darkness begins to claim our days again,
I seek to rise like a full moon
illuminating the long night,
burnishing my readiness for eternity.

 

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Why Bother?

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For a bright and promising summer solstice morning:

Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?

…and if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
~Billy Collins from “Morning”

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Yielding Spring With Grace

Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland
Rhodendron forest Rowallen Gardens, County Down, Ireland

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
~Robert Frost from “Reluctance”

It is, for me, a reluctant solstice.  I am unready to relinquish this hard-won daylight back to the night.   Here is Ireland I was amazed to see light on the horizon as early as 3:30 AM and it is still quite light out at 10:45 PM or later, almost two more hours of daylight here than at home.   The farmers are making use of this extra time; the tractors are busy until dark bringing in silage and round bales all around us.  At home the grass still is standing with almost an inch of rain yesterday.  No hay yet; it is waiting for us to fly home.

Northern Ireland is full of rhododendron forests,  centuries-old trees standing 20-30 feet high still blooming a full month after ours at home had finished.  A late spring reluctantly is yielding to summer as the delicate blooms wither to brown and fall to the ground, looking very much like autumn leaves.

I bow to this transition and accept the new season with grace, with glad sadness and sad gladness.   I will carry this extra light from Ireland home in my words, my pictures and my memories, to brighten my heart on a winters’ night.

A hillside of rhododendron in the Mourne Mountains, County Down, Ireland
A hillside of rhododendron in the Mourne Mountains, County Down, Ireland

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Green Wet Trembling June

“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly”.
Pablo Neruda

We may be three days into summer but aside from the date on the calendar, it would be difficult to prove otherwise.  It is unseasonably cool, the skies stony gray, the rivers running full and fast, the ground peppered with puddles. Rain fell in torrents last night, hiding behind the cover of darkness as if ashamed of itself.   As it should be.  Then a mid-afternoon thunder and lightening gully-washing storm passed through and completely drenched my drying laundry on the clothesline.

Enough is enough.

What all this moisture yields 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.

June tends to shroud its promise of longer days under clouds in the northwest.  Outdoor weddings brace for rain and wind with a supply of umbrellas, graduation picnics are served in the garage and Fathers’ Day barbeques under tent canopies.  There is a wary anticipation of solstice as it signals the slow inexorable return of darkness from which we have not yet recovered.

So I tremble as I splash through the squishiness of 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.