After the Solstice

I always feel the turn of the year after the summer solstice. Even though it is still bright summer, each day is a little shorter now, the early spring crops are over, and I get an acute sense of the brevity of summer, the impending autumn.  I think this delicate poem by Jane Kenyon captures that:

Wash Day

How it rained while you slept! Wakeful,
I wandered around feeling the sills,
followed closely by the dog and cat.
We conferred, and left a few windows
open a crack.
xxxxxxxxxxxxNow the morning is clear
and bright, the wooden clothespins
swollen after the wet night.

The monkshood has slipped its stakes
and the blue cloaks drag in the mud.
Even the daisies—good-hearted
simpletons—seem cast down.

We have reached and passed the zenith.
The irises, poppies, and peonies, and the old
shrub roses with their romantic names
and profound attars have gone by
like young men and women of promise
who end up living indifferent lives.

How is it that every object in this basket
got to be inside out? There must be
a trickster in the hamper, a backward,
unclean spirit.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxThe clothes—the thicker
things—may not get dry by dusk.
The days are getting shorter…
You’ll laugh, but I feel it—
some power has gone from the sun.


Jane Kenyon

Jane  Kenyon and Donald Hall were a famous poetic couple who lived together in New Hampshire where she died (too young) of cancer. Bill Moyers did a show on them, which you can see here.

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