Tag Archives: winter

ragged edge

For the dVerse poetics prompt “sometimes August isn’t recognised“:

 

August is uncertain of itself –
a ragged edge between the
winter still in the air and trees,
and the spring pushing up through the ground.
Narcissus and wattle
sweeten and powder the air,
their unexpected bursts of yellow
shocking against the greys and browns
that we have become accustomed to.
We have even forgotten that the skeletal trees
silhouetted against the blue sky
were ever heavy with fruit or leaves,
but we can still imagine the clouds
of blossom they will soon bear.

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Sutton bonfire night

Flames rise, pouring sparks upwards –
red specks flickering
among the billion bright
diamond points
of a black winter sky.

Faces glow in the firelight
while buttocks freeze,
then vice versa,
as we all enact
a slow human rotisserie.
while as the flames die down
leaves and branches gone,
back to the air they grew from,
we edge inwards
towards the great stumps and trunks
that will still be smouldering tomorrow.

(Imagine us from above, seen in time lapse:
we dance a slow, primal country dance –
spinning on the spot in concentric rings,
which gradually close around the flames.)

A blue dragon dances
past the towering fire,
head swinging to a drum beat
body swaying gracefully,
and followed behind
by a dozen children
gathered from the dark depths
by its glowing lure.

A pair of buskers,
adequate to the occasion,
lit by the church-hall porch-light
provide a backing track
to the how-have-you-beens
and did-you-hear-abouts,
exchanged by the fire.

Firefighters stand around,
poking un-burnt branches into the flames,
the red and blue lights of their engines
flashing in the background,
and the reflective strips on their suits
catching the firelight as they move
sending ripples of light across them
like deep-sea creatures.

As the flames sink
from white-yellow towers
to orange-red mounds
darkness creeps closer
and young blood is overwhelmed
with the sugar of too many
melted, scalded,
or blatantly blackened marshmallows,
and the knee-high and hyper
run in packs like ferals –
appearing
for a moment
from the dark
then disappearing again
trailing laughter.

Swaggering teens cluster
their swearing still sitting,
uncomfortably,
like sharp stones in their mouths
to be spat out from their hoodies
with awkward bravado
as they light sticks
in the marshmallow-toasting fires
now abandoned by their smaller siblings.

And so we are separated by age
(or volume? mass?)
by this strange centrifuge effect –
slowly rotating adults by the fire,
then gangling teens in their half-lit clusters,
and then the little ones,
running rings around us all in the darkness.

Until, dad’s beer and mum’s wine finished,
the sausages, served with bread and gossip,
savoured and swallowed down,
the rings start to mingle,
disperse,
as by ones and twos and threes
parents gather their teens,
their little ones,
and walk away into the darkness
under the billion bright
diamond points
of a black winter sky.

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woodsmoke

Mid-winter
and the wood-smoke rolls
in a soft tumble from the roof.
Outside in the meagre sunshine,
it smells of home and warmth,
of our own small circle of firelight.

How does the meaning of a smell change so much?

Two summers ago,
smoke was the smell of fear
filling the air,
permeating every waking moment
penetrating our sleep
turning dreams to nightmares.

Two summers of rain have washed the fear away.
I know in time it will come again,
but for now
I am choosing
to let the smoke tumbling from the chimney
remind me of the warmth inside.

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looking at baby animals therapy

For the dVerse Haibun Monday prompt, “solstice

On Sunday I walked down to my neighbour’s place to see if her overdue new calf had been born. I dawdled and delayed, scared to look in case it was still-born. But there it was, a few hours old, already fluffy and staggering around uncertainly. And I cried and cried when I saw it. Great sobs bringing up the darkness of the last months, washed out in a flood of tears (and, inevitably, quite a lot of snot). God knows what the cow thought of me, sobbing hysterically next to her. But she looked me in the eye and lowed loudly. I don’t think it was sympathy, she just wanted this mad human away from her calf.
Yesterday I planted two apricot trees, with a bag of manure each. The winter sun, even on the second-shortest of days, was warm in the garden and lifted sweet tendrils of scent from the horse and cow manure. Sweet scent of manure, sharp scent of calendulas, a comforting twist of woodsmoke from the chimney. Sitting on the ground, I day-dreamed of apricots – sun warmed, juicy and tangy-sweet, the colour of winter sunsets.
Today, my neighbour left a bunch of flowers on the gate for me. On this shortest day of the year, I have flowers on my kitchen table, the hope of summer apricots, and a fluffy calf I can visit later when the sun comes out. And if it doesn’t come out, perhaps there will be rain for my apricot trees.

let’s start the new year
with the solstice, so that each
new day is brighter

cow and calf

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where did summer go?

The Thursday dVerse “meeting the bar with the Constanza” challenge was to write a series of at least 5 three line stanzas with the rhyme scheme a/b/b, a/c/c, … in which the first lines form a poem in their own right, which is then placed at the end. Oh, and it has to be in iambic tetrameter as well.  Ummm…. okay, here goes:  

 

We watched the summer come and go,
the fields turn green with summer rain,
then gold with ripening of the grain.

Now bright leaves fall from the gingko,
to reds and browns they add their gilt
as autumn lays her patchwork quilt.

Against blue sky, bare branches show
and a half-moon peers through their net
at pigeons roosting in silhouette.

Flocks of autumn carrion crows
scrounge fields now brown and stubble-strewn.
The winter’s chill comes all too soon,

so while we wait for winter’s snow,
we’ll fill the woodshed to its beams
to give us warmth for winter dreams.

Now build the fire, and in its glow
dream of spring and a greening land
and plan the next spring’s plantings, and

ask ourselves, where did summer go?
In just a moment it was past.
But briefly too will winter last.

We watched the summer come and go,
now bright leaves fall from the gingko.
Against blue sky, bare branches show
flocks of autumn carrion crows.
So while we wait for winter’s snow.
build up the fire, and in its glow
ask ourselves, where did summer go?

 

I’ve followed Björn’s  lead in going for a seasonal theme – autumn for us down here in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately I haven’t taken a photo of the gingko trees on campus which have turned brilliant yellow, but here are the pigeons in silhouette, against a typically blue Canberra winter sky with the moon peeking through the branches. 

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boule de neige

I have brought it with me,
down from the hills
where the snow shrouds the ground
between monochrome trees.
I have brought it with me,
down through the fog
that blankets the valley
like a cloud stretched in sleep.
I have brought it with me,
to where snow gives way to grass
beneath technicolour trees
and petals dust the ground.
I have brought it with me
down from the hills
and down through the fog
from winter to spring.
I have brought it with me, for you.
But while I looked for you
it melted away,
melted away to just a cupful of water.
Just a cupful of water,
like any other.

This is for the Tuesday dVerse prompt “naming the rose“, and the challenge is to write a poem titled or using the name of a rose from the list provided. The rose I chose was boule de neige, which means “ball of snow”. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago when we had a sudden flurry of snow in spring, and I took a cupful of it to work with me for a friend. When I got to work my car still had snow on the roof (because my damn heater didn’t work), and the car I parked next to had blossom petals all over it. My cupful of snow melted in my office before I could pass it on, so I drank it. I’m cheating a bit and posting an edited version of that poem today, as I haven’t posted it before. 

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a stutter in the seasons

Summer refuses to depart,
though the sun’s daily arc
now starts well north of east
and ends far short west.
Reluctant to leave,
though the lights are dimmed
she drags out another encore.

And this hesitation confuses:
only half-way to winter
but beneath the soil
barely-rested bulbs
raise their new green spires
like a scattering of uncertain applause
through last season’s still green foliage.

This succession of Indian summers, in which
any colder day seems a transient glitch, is
a stutter in the seasons –
so summer plays again and again.

But the sun cannot be fooled –
he rises and inscribes
an autumnal arc across the sky.

 

Some years ago a friend visiting from Sydney asked “do you get many sunsets here?”, to which I gave the obvious answer “yes, every day”. But I guess they’re more noticeable here – the kitchen window faces west, towards a long ridge, and he was looking out that window at the sunset when he asked. The point along the ridge where the sun sinks changes with the seasons, like a sundial calendar.  So even though it feels like summer at the moment, the point where the sun is going down is well to the north now of where the summer sun sinks. In the southern hemisphere the sun heads north for the winter, not south.  🙂  

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mum’s hairdressing salon II

It was 30C and humid here today – and try as I might I couldn’t channel coldness for Frank’s dVerse Haibun Monday prompt, “winter“. Maybe if we had air-conditioning I could have done better. 

 

She carries spring in her step, so what need could she have for its green in her hair? What need, when her hair is yellow-brown as a summer wheat field, and her skin stores the sun and the boundless, cloudless sky is in her eyes?

I offer pink, mauve, blue (roses and lilacs, summer blooms under clear skies).

But no, it has to be green. So, I take the small bottles from my own (winter defying, winter denying?) palette: apple green, electric lime, sweet mint. I twine the colours (tendrils, vines) through the summer of her hair. And in the end it is not so much like spring come to awaken winter fields (as I want to believe it is in my hair), as like rain-wakened ground after the drought ends. As she waits, I do my own.

 

The snow in my hair

will not melt away in spring.

But it holds apples.

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waiting for Persephone

For the dVerse Tuesday poetics prompt “Persephone“: 

The birds know she is coming.
They are staking out their territory,
marking the boundaries with song.
The sheep know is she coming Continue reading

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August

For the dVerse Monday Haibun prompt, “August“:

August is a time of uncertainty, of transition – of winter greys and browns being suddenly speckled with green and yellow as the daffodils in my garden and the wattles in the bush bloom.
One day I wake to find the birdbath frozen over, and huddle in my coat, woolly beanie pulled low as I rush to do my outdoor chores. The next day the sun warms my back so much I shed layers down to a t-shirt – fooling me into forgetting my woolly beanie the next day so my ears freeze.
One day the air carries the sweet dusty scent of the wattles, the next it is so icy all I can smell is the sharp metallic scent of cold, that reddens the nose and makes it run. And then, suddenly, a hint of spring drifts through again.

A tendril of warmthwattle
curls through the air, carrying
scent of earth and growth.

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