solstice: June 2017 Archives

#21 summer solstice 2017

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I walked to the top of the driveway after sunset to see the bright color behind the silhouetted trees. The fireflies were bright spots in the wet, dark green of deep shade. The only problem with doing this project is that it makes me acutely aware of the longest day and so now the shortening days.

21 summer 2017.jpgBounding wet dark

and the fields are wet too,

the grass, the questions

we press together to answer.

You are the last candle from the barn

I blow out. Sunday wish,

we are alive

only a short time. What is the purpose

of a field if not to lie in it

--Jacques J. Rancourt, from "Bounding Wet Dark," Novena (Pleiadas Press, 2017)

21a summer 2017.jpg

#20 summer solstice 2017

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When I make my poem plates I root through the boxes of my mother's archives. She had a poetry group that met periodically and I find xeroxed versions of poems paper-clipped together. There are also hand scribbled versions and revisions. I transcribe her words through sifted ash or clay and print them so they end up reversed in the clay. I take the insubstantial words that came from my mother's mind and press them into the shape of a plate. Her life feeds mine. Her words create shadows of lines, direction, and song in clay.

20 summer 2017.jpgA writer's work
is with the insubstantial word,
the image that can only find
its being in another's mind.
We work with water, with the wind,
we make and hold no thing at all.
All we can ever shape or sing
the tremor of an untouched string,
a shift of shadows on the wall.
--  Ursula K. Le Guin, from "Writers," Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 20012)

#19 summer solstice 2017

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It's my birthday today and instead of doing anything special I have been doing mundane things like going to the dump. I also found a poem about apples that made me think of my mom. Images of her pregnant with my younger brother have been popping into my mind as I clean and organize. I have been thinking about how she makes my birthday possible; how when I was pregnant with Zoë my perspective on birthdays dramatically shifted.

So I moved a yellow daylily in my mom's honor. She had bought me various daylily varieties when we first bought our land and I am now slowly shifting a flowerbed. The lily in my mom's memory reminded me of spreading lilies when we spread her ashes. At that time she been losing her memory. She would lose the salad, new potatoes from the farmers' market, names and keys. Making drawings of apples and geraniums was her best connection to the moment. So much better than cleaning for the onset of family visitors. When we were in Maine the place and way we lived reminded her of her childhood memories of camp. She would tell us over and over about going to summer camp. I remember wanting to walk and write about all the stories she told me but that was the year that I realized her memory of recent activity was gone. Her memories of camp were more vibrant than the name of a friend. When we walked I had to let go of who she had been before. My way of relating to her was outdated. She taught me to be in the present moment. She taught me to look at the lilies, the sunset and the lit candles at dinner. She taught me to love children's books and to take time to put flowers in a cup on a table. Reading her poems now almost thirteen years after her death reminds me how outdated my thinking was when she was alive. I didn't understand how much she understood and how much she captured in her poems.

19 summer 2017.jpgSummer Apples

I planted an apple tree in memory
of my mother, who is not gone,
but whose memory has become
so transparent that she remembers
slicing apples with her grandmother
(yellow apples; blue bowl) better than
the fruit that I hand her today. Still,
she polishes the surface with her thumb,
holds it to the light and says with no
hesitation, Oh, Yellow Transparent . . .
they're so fragile, you can almost see
to the core. She no longer remembers how
to roll the crust, sweeten the sauce, but
her desire is clear--it is pie that she wants.
And so, I slice as close as I dare to the core--
to that little cathedral to memory--where
the seeds remember everything they need
to know to become yellow and transparent.
--Cathryn Essinger. Her most recent book is What I Know About Innocence from Main Street Rag Press.  

#18 summer solstice 2017

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I ended the day by digging up my garlic. I remember four years ago standing on the edge of a trip while the kiln cooled. I was undecided, was it too soon to pull my garlic? In the end I decided it was better to be early rather than too late. The planned five day get-away turned into three weeks as I sat with my dad who had had a heart attack. He hung on for a bit and finally passed away. My dad always thought father's day was a corny Hallmark contrivance, but I am happy to honor all the Dads in our orbit. Twas lovely to have a surprise visit from our daughter and her fiance, to linger on the porch and to jump in the pond as if it is full-on summer.

18 summer 2017.jpgWhat matters is precisely this; the unspoken at the edge of the spoken.
--  Virginia Woolf, from a diary entry, 21 July 1912

#17 summer solstice 2017

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Today was the kind of humid Virginia day that makes you feel that you are parting the air when you walk. The day began with rain and wet grass then moved through puffy clouds into great breezes. But when you went to lift something or dig or walk the air moved in to fill the space behind you, a reminder that summer heat was at your back. Late in the day we moseyed to the pond with the intention of a dog walk. Yet the light was so perfect in its reflection and the breezes cooling with our feet in the water there was no reason to go anywhere else. Dinner on the porch with freshly dug new potatoes and a few other tasty bits was perfect punctuation for keeping our lives whole.

17 summer 2017.jpgIn a field

I am the absence

of field.
This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in
to fill the spaces

where my body's been.

We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

-Mark Strand, "Keeping Things Whole"

#14 summer solstice 2017

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I am catching up in the garden, pulling out the bolted lettuce. It is as if the June heat gave every plant, weed and seed a boost of energy. The scattering of shade created poems of light and shadow in the long June day.

14 summer 2017.jpgWith shadows I draw worlds,
I scatter worlds with shadows.
I hear the light beat on the other side.
--  Octavio Paz, from "This Side," The Collected Poems of Octavio Paz: 1957-1987, trans. Eliot Weinberger (New Directions, 1987)

#13 summer solstice 2017

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After driving beside the Blue Ridge Mountains--through rain, sun and humidity--rehashing the North Carolina woodfire conference, we returned to thirsty plants and piles of peas. I watered the garden in the last light with the company of fireflies.

13 summer 2017.jpg"The cloud is free only to go with the wind. The rain is free only in falling."
― Wendell Berry

#12 summer solstice 2017

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After being consumed by a conference in North Carolina we've been driving through the green hills of landscape and silence.

12 summer 2017.jpgGreen was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.

--  Pablo Neruda, from "XL," 100 Love Sonnets (University of Texas Press, 1986)

#10 summer solstice 2017

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"Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences."
--Brian Eno

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#9 summer solstice 2017

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09 summer 2017.jpg" In the word  and in the void between words.
You are the pause, the synaptic skip.

You are the meaning between the syllables. "

-- Louise Erdrich, from "The Seven Sleepers," Original Fire: Selected and New Poems (Harper Perennial, 2004)

#7 summer solstice 2017

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The first lilies of June accompany the first blueberries of the month. A friend told me that one of her favorite spring moments was to go out in the morning with her cat and pick the first blueberries. I treasure my short morning walk with the dog and my small handful of first blueberries.

07 summer  2017.jpgMore Than Enough

The first lily of June opens its red mouth.

All over the sand road where we walk

multiflora rose climbs trees cascading

white or pink blossoms, simple, intense

the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy

clumps of flower and the blackberries

are blooming in the thickets. Season of

joy for the bee. The green will never

again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads

into the wind. Rich fresh wine

of June, we stagger into you smeared

with pollen, overcome as the turtle

laying her eggs in roadside sand.
Marge Piercy's latest book of poetry is Colors Passing Through Us (Knopf, 2003)  Poem copyright © 2003 by Marge Piercy

#6 summer solstice 2017

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I always feel like the first daylily is cause for celebration. It is my personal Mother's Day. I remember how my mother would pick just the flower off the long stem of a daylily. Sometimes they came from the side of the road or her sister's garden or, later in life, from her garden in Maine. The flowers went on the table sometimes in a Dixie cup, a glass jar or in one of my teacups.

06 summer 2017.jpgThere are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

--  Li-Young Lee, from "From Blossoms," Rose: Poems (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1986)

#5 summer solstice 2017

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There is no perfect plate, no ideal flower, no flawless photograph. No words to capture the green of the maple leaves or the delicacy of the elderberry on my plate nor even the smell of wet grass on a June evening.

05 summer 2017.jpgThe perfect poem is light as dust on a bat's wing, lonely as a single flea.

Like people and crows, the

perfect poem can remember faces and hold

grudges. It keeps its promises. The perfect

poem is not gold or lead or a garden gate

locked shut or a sail slapping in a storm.

The perfect poem is its own favorite toy.
It is not a state of mind or a kind of doubt

or a good or bad habit or a flower of any

color. It will not be available to answer

questions. The perfect poem is light as dust

on a bat's wing, lonely as a single flea.

~ Kaveh Akbar, from "The Perfect Poem" (Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets)

#2 summer solstice 2017

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One of my fears is always that I am repeating myself but spring teaches me that lives are seasonal. We all make circles and come back to our beginnings, finding what we know and what we do not know. In the spring, we see the past and the future as weeds zoom off and planted seedlings thrive and wilt. As a potter I also foresee the future imagining what the current wet work will look like once fired.

02 summer 2017.jpgBut spring teaches us that our lives are seasonal, we go round and round, back to our beginnings, spiraling on to we know not what, into the past and into the future, round and round goes the wheel.


#1 summer solstice 2017

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On June first I have found myself photographing images once again, paying attention to the light and the length of the day. Here is the first in the series leading up to the longest day of the year on June 21.

01 summer 2017.jpg


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the solstice category from June 2017.

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