The clock’s struck winter. It’s the solstice, and the marble’s at the bottom of the bowl. My head’s not in the clouds, it’s above them – my skull the sun itself, my feet (size eight) down there in the backyard. Thinking this, I feel taut and vertical all day, my mind on alignment.
Before this, the earth’s ice-stark and bare and a thick secret blue, save for that timid pink rim. If the horizon is a rim, half the planet’s inverted, this hemisphere concave like a bowl. The other side is concave, too; their bowl is full of summer.
The first strong ray of the solstice appears, pinned onto the mountain.
The solstice falls at the end of the fall – rock bottom. Winter begins small, crushed, kept in a tight fist, and it expands unto the equinox. This morning there’s a purple cloud, low, horizontal, and rooflike, just above the far trees.
I like to sit with possibilities. We all have tea.
Darling dawn a-dawning, dawn a-downing, down the coffee in the morning, morning meets the world a-spinning down toward the sun.
The sky stood dark and pre-dawnly. A light from inside the house shone out, out onto a tree. The sun hasn’t yet risen; we’re just shining our own poor light out into it all. Shaky yellow manufactured meanings! All the while the day dawns, strong and red.
The early morning thing is that the morning fire spread heralding.
The skin’s awareness of gravity upon waking dredges up with it the nagging memory of another sky’s reflection in an old lake.
I’ve come here to know, and I’ve come here to fight the insistence that something essential is missing (the absence that twists along inside the sunrises and the hard questions and all the right songs).
My powers of observation are, thus far, less than acute. I’m blunted, but I get the job done. Those bare trees are crazy. I wake every morning to opportunities ripe for betrayal. In betraying God, I would only betray myself, turn myself over to terror, release beauty’s hold on me, break free from freedom.
A sunrise is a sadness singed with ecstasy.
Cows dot the pasture. “We do dot,” they’d say if they wanted to argue but had a bad cold.
Cloudy this morning, muted and pale.
At dawn, in the gut, a reluctance.
My vision is paltry (is faulty); my fingers are slow. There’s light, sure, but these deciduous trees are all wintering.
I hear geese outside.
The earth isn’t a sphere, or even a cunning approximation of such – it isn’t an oblate spheroid. It is blessedly darling irregular. The North Pole is slightly higher than the average surface, and the South Pole is slightly lower. There is a lump – a lump, mind you! – in the Pacific Ocean, and a depression in the Indian Ocean. The equator isn’t a perfect circle, because the equatorial bulge isn’t even.
I woke at six, but the sun didn’t really rise until around seven, because it has to come over the mountain.
These are new beginnings, mercies new-every-morning, coexistent with inescapable continuity. We stand both bound and unbound by the past. The overlap of other dawns, other winters, wraps its smoky self about our ankles, or else it embraces us, dragging us under, dragging us back. And yet we discard whole eternities, shrug off whole histories, stand here young-dawning and free.
I drove to work through fire-kissed frost.
Here barely post-solstice, the colors are muted. Light seeps through the morning-hung clouds pretty evenly. This here is the usual (I’ve seen such a sky tinting roseward so morningly often). This isn’t: something’s blowing around – it’s snowing, the easterly sky still a-glowing.
Hope is a most treasured and hammered and dangerous thing.
There was snow with the sunrise again. Just before the sun rose, a bright, broad ray shot up from behind the mountain. I got a decent photo: the ray was a rainbow, and it lasted on after the sunrise.
Woke, eyebrows reaching upward as to grasp a ledge and pull the brain over.
Does daybreak hurt the horizon? Does it burn?
[I’m awake now – the horizon’s fine.]
Everything & everyone with consciousness, please say “here.” Everything & everyone who feels pain, please say “ow.” Everything & everyone rejoicing – hey – sing it.
I need to see the day breaking – over and over and over again. This is a confrontation, a facing-up to existence itself. I can’t confront the whole of existence – it is too big, as Job found – not all at once, anyway. But perhaps I can face it synecdochically, as I face dawn every day. “Here I am – and there you are. Well, now.”
There is a lustre, but not yellow or bright as of midday. The snow gleams blue, but it isn’t a blue that I would want to paint with or wear. The snow isn’t new-fallen either, and I see no moon, only deep gray barely-blue clouds.
avoidance / buoyancy / abeyance
The hill is white, and the sky is not as white.
Everything without a context must adopt or be adopted. Everything and everyone is seeking a place in the story.
The sun rose quite well without all I destroyed last red evening.
My mind goes into semi-philosophical mode as soon as I wake up. Maybe I’ve been trying to answer all the central questions in my sleep every night. Someone should tell my subconscious to give it up already.
I woke to a tangerine sky, the whole rough east gleaming.
Low purple-grey cloud: the mountain lifts a crooked finger.
If the sun won’t rise visibly anyway, what’s to keep me from facing the west? This line of persistence may well stand as shape, as a spine.
Sunrise and sunset are miniature equinoxes; midnight and noon tiny solstices.
Miniatures! Speak, widen your funnel-mouths, give up your secrets. General to specific, specific to general, sublime to intimate, back to the sublime. Tell.
We’ve got one lens per eye; plenty of creatures have multiple lenses. The little trilobites and flies have compound apposition eyes, and they live in mosaic-worlds. They get kaleidoscope sunrises. (No. They don’t. They have such a short range of vision that they probably don’t. But many of them can detect polarized light, and polarization does happen at sunrise. Not as much as at sunset, but it’s there. The critters see something; they just won’t tell us what.)
The pearl-grey swells, rises to the occasion, brims confessing to golden.
(Imagine atoms as tiny tiny pearls, and the whole world will seem silken.)
No subtext without context. All context lost, and subtext stranded somewhere, mute. Now there are sensible boundaries, resounding, sound off –
Sound off! Here we are! Back behind the mountain! Back up to the tree-line! Up unto your skin!
Anywhere the light can reach must be safe. There are no sharp corners here, so do not steer as if there were.
sore sore sore sore (as with a secret)
I can do without. Do not try to bring what you cannot give. Live in a light house, and frugally.
old unbroken promises / old and broken promises
The light has arrived; the sky is grey and blank.
The sun is white but shines yellow, because when sunlight hits the atmosphere it scatters. (Get going.)
The daffodils will be here soon.
What am I to do with a plain grey sky when I just want to sleep? This scene may well be a window to something, but I am not looking very intently. Must I force everything open?
There’s nothing happening. Oh, but everything’s happening (so I tried to convince or remind myself or you) – we’re barreling through space at eighteen and a half miles per second. Is that fast? I can’t go a mile in a second, not in my car, anyway. But – the circumference of the earth, at the equator (it’s different if you measure through the poles), is a little over 24,900 miles. The earth’s diameter (through the equator again) is 7926.3352 miles.
18.5 miles/second x 60 seconds/minute x 60 minutes/hour x 24 hours/day = 1,598,400 miles/day.
It’s not that I am unimpressed. But I’m more impressed with the stillness than with the breakneck speed. (It isn’t breaking my neck, or the earth’s or anyone else’s.)
It is a living stillness, like that of my body when I’m resting. My blood flows at about three feet per second when it leaves my heart, slowing down until it reaches the heart again. And I breathe. Keep me perfectly perfectly still for too long, and I must be permanently excused.
The distance the earth travels in orbit in one day is just 202 times its own diameter. Well, that’s rounded up. The calculator says 201.6568787. Pick a day when you don’t have to go anywhere, and don’t move any farther than 202 times the thickness of your own body, all day.
The point of the sunrise slides down, down the mountain and northward. Before Scottish settlers named this mountain Ben Lomond, after home, people called it Dark Mountain.
Mr. Mullican, our neighbor, once tried building a pond out there in the field, but the ground wouldn’t hold water; it was too porous. So now when Mr. Mullican wants to graze his cattle near a pond, he uses some other field. Still, every once in a good rainy while, the hollowed space fills up again.
Today the hollowed space holds water, holds the sun’s reflection.
Stratus clouds, three of them, hover like shielding arms or too-relevant facts. I catch them breaking apart at the top; now I can take them a little less seriously. Their undersides glow pink with sunrise: these are wide clouds; light divulges dimension.
A minute later, the whole sky’s a cloud, aflame, and crowding the mountain.
I look again. This is like an Escher painting, impossible skies instead of impossible stairs. The sky above the mountain is so smooth and uniform that were it not for those extensions, left and northward, over the lower, unmountainous treeline, I would perceive the whole upper sky to be clear. Or are those streaks of cloudlessness rather than clouds?
Went to the living room; looked out from there. The sky above the mountain was undoubtedly cloud. But what happened to the stratus cloud? Did it stretch way out, or skedaddle?
Back at my own window, I find the sky cloud-spread and grey – blue-grey with the occasional pink tint, but none of this whole-glowing business. What, all that overture for naught? Day’s got to get started. They’ll let the sun in the back way today.
The flash pond in the field didn’t stay, but the puddle it became froze before it could take full sleeping leave. Streaks of pink and peach blur together, blending; now the pink is spreading like a rash.
As we turn toward the sun, fat packs of rays shoot through the branches of trees on the mountain, so that we see another, erstwhile secret, horizon.
If I’d always been told it, I would have believed that the sun is a god. I might sing to welcome it; I might wonder if all was not well if it didn’t show up straightaway. Yesterday might have unnerved me.
I saw a large black spot, like the one in Treasure Island but larger, the size of an open hand. It was some kind of black hole that appeared at the end of dreams, and I could go through it if I wanted to keep dreaming. I didn’t go through it. I woke, and the morning sky was grey.
In light of the sunrise, we’re forced into facing our orbit (elliptic).
There’s snow on the ground. I’m barely awake. I can hear the geese, somewhere out in the snow.
Just before the sun rose, the eastern sky turned pink. Below, the snow shone dully. It wasn’t luminous – that word’s too generous. Even “blue” is a stretch. It’s close to the color of storm clouds hanging thick and foreboding in the middle of the day. But the snow’s form is so foreign that even that comparison doesn’t stand long.
Once the sun rose, the icicles caught the light and flung it in every direction. The iced-over maple tree glimmers as if full of spiders’ webs. Yesterday I watched spider webs catch needle-shaped snowflakes.
There’s days-old snow on the ground, and the world isn’t silent; neither is it singing. It’s buzzing. The snow’s only ice now; ice doesn’t hush anything.
I am some sorry eye – stuck with specks, blocked with logs!
I thought the sun yesterday would have melted the ice coating the upper branches of those naked, twiggy trees, but the ice is still there, stubborn, thick.
This morning, the clouds were first purple, then pink, then that flame-orange, then some kind of yellow, and now that pre-rise pearl-white. Just a few of them, off in the usual direction.
Two birds alight on two bushes.
The sun’s bright enough that it hurts. It isn’t up yet, but I had to step away.
It is six fifty-eight. The clouds are so bright that I cannot tell whether or not the sun has yet risen. I don’t yet see its delimiting circle. What would we have thought and believed if the sun had no circle, but shone as a larger and amorphous brightness all day?
snowbones and fog
When your body says that the world – that most of the world – is irrelevant, listen cautiously.
A bird lights on the edge of a full five-gallon bucket to drink.
Nearly seven and still no sign of the sun. That’s wrong – it’s light enough outside; the sun’s around here somewhere. Who’s been shining on my grass?
If you check the definitions, dawn is when the sky begins to lighten, ending twilight. Sunrise doesn’t really happen till the sun itself appears. This is one long dawn.
Allison Boyd lives in Nashville, where she wears many hats. Her writing has appeared in The Penwood Review and in Nibble.