November seems to be a month for deep reflection. It feels like nature strips us bare and dims the light so that we are forced look to look inwards.
At the same time, however, Mother Nature, opens up new spaces and patterns as the leafless trees allow us to see the skies ~ especially the starry skies on clear frosty nights.
Bareness and space feel unfamiliar after the lush growth of Spring and Summer and the colourful tapestries of Autumn.
But this is time in which we should seize the apparent quietness and work away within ~just as nature is working beneath the soil ensuring that the spring colour of snowdrops and crocuses will re-emerge with vibrant hope and promise for the onward journey.
We have just moved into Winter Time here in Ireland and it feels like we have crossed from light into darkness.
It’s at times like this that I find myself turning to poetry as it never fails to serve as a bridge to help me get from one mindset to another.
The poem that brought great solace today as the rain poured and the sun seemed to have turned his face away forever was this one:
from What the Light Teaches
Language is the house with lamplight in its windows,
visible across fields. Approaching, you can hear
music; closer, smell
soup, bay leaves, bread – a meal for anyone
who has only his tongue left.
It’s a country; home; family
abandoned; burned down; whole lines dead, unmarried.
For those who can’t read their way in the streets,
or in the gestures and faces of strangers,
language is the house to run to;
in wild nights, chased by dogs and other sounds,
when you’ve been lost a long time,
when you have no other place.
There are nights in the forest of words
when I panic, every step into the thicker darkness,
the only way out to write myself into a clearing,
which is silence.
Nights in the forest of words
when I’m afraid we won’t hear each other
over clattering branches, over
both our voices calling.
In winter, in the hour
when the sun runs liquid then freezes,
caught in the mantilla of empty trees;
when my heart listens
through the stethoscope of fear,
your voice in my head reminds me
what the light teaches.
Slowly you translate fear into love,
the way the moon’s blood is the sea.
(Source: Staying Alive, 2002, edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books)