|The Throne of Psyche - just out from Mercer University Press!|
|Jin, Julia, Marly, Rebecca in thekitchen|
This piece is in that small but select genre of poems by happy Southern souls who go North and must weather the brunt of cold. Right about January or February, we get tired and discouraged by all the dratted snow walls and dumps and towers. Then we must dree our weird, and by February the weird we are busy dreeing seems to be nothing but a cold, hard, and particularly icicular weird to dree.
The Lake here is Otsego, and indeed I did see the Northern Lights there once, but much paler than I have seen them elsewhere. The arrow mentioned is a great white arrow on the platform by the water in Council Rock Park in Cooperstown. It does point to the North. Which seems often to be the weird I dree.
***And for those of you who are neither Scots nor fans of Terry Pratchett's "wee big hag" and her "wee free men," "dreeing your weird" is something like facing up to your fate--mine being a fate having something to do with living in a snow pocket by a lake and living in a condition that feels like a sort of Narnia with always witch-cold and never spring. But though it is chilly, we at last have birds and flowers and sunshine and, yes, a sort of springtime.
"The Exile's Track" was originally published in storySouth and can also be found at youtube as a video by Paul Digby.
THE EXILE'S TRACK
At midnight I went down to the lake, and there
I saw the Northern Lights as seven swords
Of long-dead kings that glimmered in the sky.
They were as thin and cold as icicles,
Set evenly above a shoal of cloud—
The winter’s glittering eyes drew low to see,
Its glories made into one burning look.
I stepped onto the marble arrowhead
That points the way to North forevermore,
And though I stood below a canopy
Close-crowded with the bright burrs of the stars,
And though I held my love, and though our children
Were safe and sleeping at my back, I met
And knew a loneliness beyond all heal.
A silvery voice arose out of the spires,
Out of the dark’s offhanded elegance:
You gave your heart away, oh, long ago,
So there’s no help—now you must bide in frost,
And when you die, the reaper’s men will scar
The ground for your grave, or else will burn your limbs
And bury the ash in a wall of stone.