Once again, I’m taking part in what I have come to think of as a very lovely tradition, the Bloggers Silent Poetry Reading that marks the Feast of St. Brigid. The first year I did it, I asked my father-in-law, the poet, to provide me with a favourite of his. The next year he did me the honour again. In Lene’s family, they always say that if you do something twice, that makes it a tradition, and apparently Joe Sr. feels that way too, since this year he was the one who reminded me that Silent Poetry Reading was coming up, and asked me when I needed his poem by. Clearly, he has come to think of this space as “his” for this day of the year, and who am I to argue with him. Old Joe (as the children call him, to set him apart from his son who is “Our Joe” ) is splitting his time these days between frozen Toronto, snowy Quidi Vidi (pronounced “kitty viddy”) in Newfoundland, and Mecca, Saudi Arabia – which is where he is today – enjoying a temperature of 33 degrees (91F). (Whoops. He’s back!) I wondered, when he sent me this by email, if it was the hot weather there that had inspired him, but I’m guessing not. Were I a betting woman, I would have my money on the brief but remarkable Newfoundland summer… made all the more special by the contrast with the long and dark winter.
For me it conjured up images of my daughters on the rocks at Shallow Bay a few years ago, young women more than children, and how the beauty of a young girl at the sea is the likely the only thing that can outshine a summer day in the succinct but glorious Newfoundland summer.
O see the pulse of summer in the ice.
I see summer girls in splendor
Walk foot bare on fields of green
Sea-wet hair dried by warm breezes
Swirling through an open screen.
I see summer skin sun-ripened
Under flowing loose white gown
Mound of freckled salt-stiff breast
Hair at nape of neck like down.
I see summer girls in laughter
After yellow ball spins round
Voices murmur in the twilight
Fever rising with the sound.
I see summer rain on faces
Sleep-soft bodies stir in morn
Stain of virgin seed and berry
Strut of sainted youth reborn.
I see you summer girls and dread
The day veils will turn heartless
No more to open on blue hills
When I lie down with darkness.