Full midnight moon on fields that yield but snows, Air apple-clean, crisp, sweet In lungs and nose, The only sound your feet Past silent woods – Inhaling moods and modes Of midnight roads.
In twenty minutes, you hear only this: A dog bark twice. An owl hoot once. A horse snort by a fence. Some heavy breath behind a hedge: a cow. A mile away a car’s lights show, then go. You walk unknown, alone, towards some place With light and life, perhaps a warm cafe To make a break in travelling towards day.
This quiet little winter poem (sorry about the timing, Australia…) was first published in The Orchards Poetry Journal. The editors tend toward the bucolic and the formal… but they make exceptions, thank goodness, because this piece is not quite formal. It may be in iambics, but without a pattern to the line length or to what rhyme there is.
But it’s true to the winter outdoor experience–and pleasant enough, so long as you have good boots and adequate clothes!
The knife of night
Spreads swirls of black and white
Over the slice of here.
The taste is bold:
A pinch of cold,
Spiced with primeval fear.
This little poem was first published in Candelabrum, a British print magazine that ran twice yearly from 1970 for some 40 years. Its editor, Leonard McCarthy, was a lone voice dedicated to keeping traditional poetic sensibilities of metrical and rhymed
The poem itself came from a nighttime ramble in the forests that cut through the residential areas of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Hundreds of acres in town are undevelopable because of steep slopes, creeks and ravines. Where the night woods are unlit except by moon and stars, there are deer, possums, foxes, flying squirrels, owls… copperheads… poison ivy… The night is beautiful, but you can’t help moving through its darkness in a different state of being, compared with daylight.