06 April 2011

Charles' Poem

Dear Tara and Bill, I am busy reworking some poems that I laid aside last year – debating whether to incorporate all the changes suggested in various and sundry poetry workshops. Now I’ve returned to the original, made some changes and am re-circulating it amongst family members for comment. I had assumed that I sent it to you two years ago but cannot find the evidence in my stored emails.
Love Tio - - hasta pronto.
On First Watching the Northern Lights
His bear-like paw engulfed my hand. We trudged the snow-lit hill.
There’s Orion! My father spoke as he peered left.
The mighty hunter, -- just getting off his lazy couch. And he told
how Orion would face the enraged bull with that red eye
the Bedouins called Aldebaran. Looking north at the pole star,
he told me how the mighty Bear, the Big Dipper in twenty thousand years
would drift apart -- stars fleeing in all directions.
I wanted everything to stay the same.
As we arrived our bull gave out a snort more menacing
than welcome to our barn – a treasure trove of mounds of hay to climb
and piles to jump in and to roll: a place of magic
and of warmth. It smelled of livestock and clover.
The cow with her round body, warm and soft,
exuded comfort seldom found within our home.
The milking done we walked down hill.
But where the Dipper brightly shone, a yellow rainbow
now appeared and from its arc leaped sheets of flame
in sudden squares that shop up through fire-streaked skies - -
all jumbled rainbow colors
And whirling dervishes of light. . .
“Northern Lights,” my father said. Next month we’d see
a greater wonder. From this same hill, we’d see the sun
eclipsed. . . A fiery rim replaced the darkling sun, which vanished. . .
Birds scurried off to bed - - rivulets of morning light
danced minuets on the snow.
My father and his brother quarreled. And split the farm in two.
We no longer walked up to the hill. But sat instead within
the cellar’s frozen quietness counting cold and shiny apples.
There was no comforting cow with warmth and fragrance.
Instead the acrid smell and yellow light from kerosene lamps.
I went away to school. My father had no one left to tell
The Glory of the Winter Skies. - -
His only company the cat and a thousand silent apples.

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