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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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