I yearn this year for yams yankedstraight from the sod, their yellow skins searedin the heat of the hearth, home and healingbaking into my bread, the crust burstingwith rosemary. Rushing, their faces redmy family leaves the frost, comes to the fire,welcomed, warming their hands, waitingfor the smell of soup simmering over flames.The melting wax makes us merry, mellow,playful. Our pagan practices plaitour good, our grudges, our groans and gaffesto a single strand of sweetness.
We sweep the stoop, shake the sheetsinto frozen February, their flannel fabriclike waves of warmth to wash away winter.We light the candlewicks, the white waveringin the Chinook's call. Our house cleanwe paint the ceremonial plough pastel,plant it, and water it well with whiskey.We watch for the marks of the Maidensifting through seeds, sowing spring,unrippling the roots of radish and rose.Our yard soon unfolds yawns of yellow:dim young daffodils to dwarf the darkness.
I scuffle through thin snow, separating stalksof grass, grinning at their green.I stoop at the pine tree, pushing the wet pileback from the weathered bark at its base.My woodruffs, wilted, weighted by winter:one final fleece of frozen water.I remove my mittens, mixing the meltwaterI touch on the tips of the leaves, tracingthe lines lengthwise. I long to liftthe petals, pick them. My ears prick up: your pencilscrapes your sketchbook. You shift the sheet so I seethe batch of blooms burst from the book.
The bonfire begins with the band of bluesky burgeoning purple, prolonging the displayof light. Leaning against a limb, I look onas you dance in the darkness, leaping and dipping.May wine in one hand, I whisk you awayto the mossy mound I've marked with marigolds.The sweat on the skin of your palm is sweetwhen I taste it, my tongue teasing the tipsof your fingers, then your forearm, the flush on your face.I submerge in your smell, your smile, the softnessas you nuzzle your nose from my throat to my naveland we laugh between kisses, like the Lady and Her Lover.
We depart in the dimness before dawn,our picnic basket packed with asparagus, peaches,bread, and cheese, bound for the beach,the sunshine, golden as a strawberry seed,reaching over the horizon. Our ritualfor the longest light of the year: listeningto the surf sound the seconds until sunset,digging deep into the sand and there discardingour fears, the year's failures. With firewood,we obstruct the opening, then douse all with oil.The fire twists the tints of twilight.Our mistakes move from ash to mist to moonlight.
I bleed between the briars of the blackberrybush, sweat sliding over my skin, slippingaround my wrist like the sun waning in the west:a handful of the new harvest to carry home.In the kitchen: one cup of flour for the Crone,the Mother, and Maiden. More for me.My palms push into the dough, pull it, prodinvisible sheets of gluten, sticky with summer.I press the fruit firmly into the final shapeof the bread and bake the loaf brown,hollow, hot, like the humid hoursof August that sutumn's arrival will ease away.
Against the west wind, we wanderunder autumn arches: oak, ash,a giant maple, gathering leaves for garlands.We scuffle our shoes in the sloughed-off sun,searching for a conjunction of colors that castslights like dawn deepening to day. the darkbreath of winter blows, benign, without bite.We lean on the wall to watch the weather.Nature mimics the Mother: in mourning, misting,drowsy, her head drooping, her drizzlefalling as varnished veins. The verdure vanisheslost in leaves aloft, released, unleashed.
Grey gloom connects sky to ground. Gropingbranches, bare without leaves, beat aboutwindows. The wind whistles, then whisperswhen the sun sets. The year's shadows stand up.I pick up a pile of pictures: peopleI love, now dead. The darkness and dimnessblur their beginnings, their bodies, my breathcondensing in candle and moonlight, as I callup my memories. I murmur how much I've missed them,share the excitement and sadness of seasons since.Outside my garden: children giggling, ghostslaughing to be liquid among the living.