Poet's Solstice Poem by David Mitchell


The Poet’s Solstice

The oddity of this meandering life

Is only emphasized by its failure

Of metaphor: the long slow passage

From too early autumnal nights,

Meager harvests, brief Indian summer

Into withering winter, ice in the

Marrow, grind of joints too frozen

To slide, cheekbones sadder than granite.

Others climbed uphill toward the sun,

Found basking places, came to rest,

But I moved past them, sought glaciers

In which to imprison youth, numb its

Edges against the pain of will, not yet

Tired of boredom as the boon companion

Of incarceration, still comforted by the

Crack and shatter of sledge on stone.

Strange that the wind becomes thinner

As oxygen fails, that rainbows survive

The heights, not caring the form of water.

How could I know life would linger,

That in its briefest season

The thawing margins of the summit

Would reach to plump out scant seed, impel

It to seek the source that scented

Warmer, still-rising air with the

Faint bittersweet of butterfly scales,

The pungent tears of spring’s first storms.

The body faintly wishes to resist this

Journey toward gentler repose, but

The way lies downward, daisy-marked,

Across slopes of talus and scree.

The feet already find hewn pebbles that

Have rolled this way before me, bearing

Faint impressions of decades’ labor:

A few have been pocketed as keepsakes,

Reminders of how little endures.

The heart has revived to the point where

Milestones are no longer beneath notice:

Yesterday I paused at the first and was

Struck dumb at finding another’s seasons

Stitched up and left as a wayfarer’s gift:

After a night beneath that cloak, I’ve

Shed my tatters and wrapped it about me.

It speaks of solace and longing

On the road to summer.

- David W. Mitchell
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