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