The Lark, The Peat, The Star, and Our Time

The Lark, The Peat, The Star, and Our Time
Neile Graham

And a lark flashed a needle across the west
And we spread a thousand peats
Between one summer star
And the black chaos of fire at the earth’s centre.
—George Mackay Brown

It was the year of no summer,
when it hid under banks of rain, ducked
behind fog, dashed across the road
in front of us, rolled under a car and out
the other side, its face a flash in a side mirror,
flirting for our notice, as though a test
of our worthiness. We weren’t. Worthy that is.
We gave up on it, threw ourselves on autumn’s
mercies, deciding the metallic hint of frost was best.
And a lark flashed a needle across the west.

We froze in place. It was the sign we needed:
a sunrise bird, sewing the sky, sowing winter
like a seed in our hearts where it might sprout
and flourish, thicken and keep us chilled
through all the long and glorious nights.
We weren’t heroes, we were cheats:
we thought we were big enough to revel in it.
We thought we were brave and brazen.
We weren’t. We huddled in our solstice retreats
And we spread a thousand peats

to warm our hearts. And they did. We admitted it.
So spring took pity on us. Raised its head above
our bleak horizon. Thawed playgrounds into blossoming.
Warmed us into fields worth plowing, planting,
all the works of hope, made us truly brave.
Rained and shone into us. Our courages are
more humble now, but no less than the first leaf
tenderly unfurling, spreading its fingers to reach
the first glinting bar of summer sun, just that far
Between one summer star

and the next, the next, and the next, how we
learned to flourish, to abound, to be unbound,
to stop counting each minute and to hold our hands
out to the sun, letting it dry and freckle our skins.
Allowing ourselves touch the minutes like ball bearings
we could let fall one by one, so we could enter
each day and leave it tasted, noted, changed
by our passage. Enjoy that our explorations were
no longer those of children, time was our mentor
And the black chaos of fire at the earth’s centre.


Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination but is a long-term Seattle resident where she can still live close to the beach and the rainforest. Her publications includes three poetry collections, most recently Blood Memory, a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected & New, and poems in various journals, including most recently Apex Magazine, Goblin Fruit, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

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