Showering of arrows

Hello friends. Greetings from this slipping time between the solstice and the brink of another year. It can feel these days like we’re waiting for something to happen, but I can report that here on this peninsula things are happening. They might be happening where you are too. I’d be curious to know.

For one, the wind is happening. On the evening before the solstice it was happening to such a degree that it held me leaning back on my heels atop the moraine over the lake. As the sun set behind a raft of gray cloud, snow buntings landed in the whistling tops of the jack pines. Next morning, when I returned to the moraine before sunrise, the wind had calmed. I lay in the shelter of the pines, just as I had last year and the year before that, and listened to the buntings’ incongruously vernal chatter. Things are happening!

I come to you this month bearing another poem. This one is a part of something bigger that will likely appear in a future volume of Polylith, which, I’m excited to say, will be assuming a new (albeit familiar) form in the coming year — but more on that in a bit. First the poem. You remember last year at the solstice when I was visited by a white-winged figure who rose at sunrise from the frozen till? She visited me again this year, not at sunrise but while I slept. Her message, as ever, comes oblique but precise; hers is not a glancing blow. I’ll share the dream with you.

An abstract painting consisting of an ivory field with three large geometric forms at the center. On the left is a taupe half-circle and on the right is a golden crescent, and the two shapes frame a small black circle with an empty center.

Moon Series C, Lynn Chadwick, 1965

Artemis Limnaea

Through the osier glimpse the figure turning to rise naked from the spring, crescent bow slung over shoulder.

She may be many-named, this god of the golden arms, of white wings held aloft and long legs to earth: called wearer-of-masks, delighting-in-arrows, strong-voiced, lady of clamors — but no names now, simply a steep beauty, a stark slope we would climb endlessly if asked, climb without rest.

And so hubris rises in the body to settle leaden at the crown. She turns, eyes like arrows loosed deft before the gaze, like a bull’s horn into the belly, like intuition — a gaze we crave as much as we fear.

Yes! swing your golden arms poised so the taut crescent disappears in profile and the arrow collapses to a point of light. Yes, it is that cyclopean gaze we crave, gaze of companion but never lover, gaze like spring water on the tongue; yes! we are thirsty.

Now lift hubris from crown and place it on a mossy trunk beside, to be shot wingbeat quick dead center from afar; terror and relief down through the body.

You lifter of weight! Shower us with arrows — points generously given, white feathers withheld.

A black and white photograph showing a constellation of abstract crescents made of light against a dark background. Bright diagonal streaks like meteors appear over top. In the background, at the bottom of the image, is the horizon of a gray planet-like orb.

Light C, Hanaya Kanbei, 1930

I’m excited to announce that next year, after a short rest, Polylith will reawaken as a print publication. I’ll commit to publishing four volumes over the course of a year, one per season, starting at Beltane (around the first of May). In the meantime, I’ll finish up this cycle of letters in February, and even after the switch to print I’ll continue to send short monthly emails with seasonal observations and bits of poems-in-progress. Stay tuned for details on how to subscribe to Polylith in paper form — I’m figuring all that out now.

And finally, I have two more bits of news to share. First, the book I’ve been writing around the first yearlong cycle of these letters is finished (!), and I’m working now on getting it published. The book is called Drift Gestures, and I’ll be submitting the manuscript to a few groovy independent presses in the coming days. I expect the wait to be long, so don’t expect more news on that front for a while. Still, I’m thrilled to have crossed one threshold.

Second, the pamphlet I mentioned a few letters back is also done — it’s called Rising water / Palm to stone, and I’ll be publishing it myself. I’m still sorting out how to best print the thing, but I’ll open up pre-orders very soon. You’ll be the first to hear!

Until next month, may you dream of candles in the treetops, hills silent under snowfall and the night sky like a generous showering of arrows. Happy new year!