Waking Early

I am still processing that there will be no more new wise words from Mary Oliver. My sister gave me her latest volume of selected poems Devotions as a Christmas gift and it is ever present by my bedside for a quick, refreshing dip. And I am constantly amazed at the breadth of her poetic vision. I considered the early 1960s poem “No Voyage” just now. Twenty years later came “The Journey.” Now, go find those poems! And feast!

Today’s Poetry Daily is a gratitude for her being in our world, for being a veritable lighthouse during these stormy times. I am up at stupid o’clock.” But who is to say that I am not in training for waking shortly after 3am on Monday morning to experience the eclipse of the Wolf’s blood moon?

Why Mary Oliver Woke Early

” in happiness, in kindness…”
open- armed, welcoming first light.
Meanwhile, I am awake
while it is still night.

The animals and I are restless.
The old dog, the young cats –
it’s hard to gauge their happiness.
I refill their bowls for a pre-dawn bite,
make tea, wait for day’s break,
no necessity for chitchat.

Just us and the gibbous moon.
Even though the wolf isn’t bothering to bay.
The cloud is covering its clarity.
But who is to say
that we still don’t commune,

sharing our restlessness,
this waiting well past midnight
in a darkness that is also a kindness,
in a darkness that has its own brightness?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Ambrosial Hours

ambrosial hours

Maybe it is the nearly full moon. Or maybe not. But here I am again writing away at an unnaturally early (for me) hour. I have a primary school workshop again this morning. And another walk/workshop again tomorrow. So one would think I would be cherishing my sleep. But Lady Luna is having none of it. So I have been padding around the house trying to preserve the stillness. The old dog’s toe nails are clacking on the floor as she lumbers towards the front door. The kettle seems to roar. The drips from the tap are percussion. Zipping off the lid of the cat food tin feels loud. As were one particular cat’s meows. But then we subside back into the stillness of the ambrosial hours.

A friend alerted me to this concept in a Facebook comment yesterday, because this waking early lark seems to becoming a ‘thing’with me.  She told me that it is the amrit vela and refers to the tilt of the earth in relation to the slant of the sun in the hours when sensible people, cats and dogs are sleeping. It is considered conducive to what is classed as ‘inner work’, the likes of meditation and prayer. But she reckoned poetry writing qualifies, too. It is about responding to an inner calling.  So thank you, Siobhán for suggesting today’s poetry practice subject and title. ‘Tis the season for thanks giving after all. One must credit one’s inspirations.


Ambrosial Hours

I sup on silence
as much as my cup of tea.
I wake too early
heeding some inner call,
some tidal tug from
labouring Luna.
I sup on the stillness
after the old dog goes back to sleep
having had some call
of her own to answer.
I wake too early, even if
if is not my nature.
I sup on the night
and its absence of light.
I learn in the chill how to make
an old  tinderbox work.
I wake too early
in order that I may remember.
I sup on time’s ambrosia,
the empty hours that
no one else can claim.
I feast on time that
any alarm would disdain.
I wake too early
to sup on silence,
to sup on stillness,
to sup on memory –
all the whys of waking too early.
Copyright© Bee Smith 2018

Featured image: Photo by Tony Detroit on Unsplash

Waking in Darkness

I wonder if I will be able to keep up this poem a day poetry writing practice through to the New Year? I would like to think so, but the pace is ratcheting up for holiday preparation. I have hand made Christmas presents on the go – one and a half done, one and a half to go, and no they are not poems! I have funded projects to finish and have two schools visits over the next two weeks. And like almost everything in 2018, schedules have been very changeable. There has been a lot of flux and flow under the bridge, perhaps mirroring a general instability or jitteriness. But this poem a day writing has become a still point in what often manifests as a Crazyville world. It’s very wearing. And though I am more often a night owl who cannot fall asleep, some evenings even I drop off early. Then, eight hours later I lie awake listening to how the house breathes.

Waking in the Darkness

Waking in the morning darkness

at a time beyond the hour

of fear and trembling, no

waking at the time of cat’s eye clarity

in a silence so profound

it is undisturbed by whirr

of owl wing or bat’s squeak.

The world is just breathing.

In night’s muffled velvet 

Venus sparkles large and cold and bright,

a maharajah’s giant jewel.

And she is not lonesome

in a suddenly crowded sky.

It is as if all the dying stars from

light years’ away have burst

their last glory to their final witness

one soul speaking to another.

Copyright Bee Smith 2018