Ann Arbor, along with the greater Detroit area, is under a winter weather advisory as I write this post. The forecast doesn’t look too treacherous — maybe an inch of snow — but from the room where I write the world outside tells a different story. A strong wind pushes bare tree branches against my house. It seems to press at the window, and the window squeaks in response. The wind somersaults, and I imagine it’s delighted in its wild rumpus.
I love the juxtaposition of dark, fierce, snowy and crystal-cold January with the shiny, exuberant, inspiring, new adventures and hopes people declare when the year is new. This opposition is how I think change should feel. The week prior to this one my family and I were in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it was 70 degrees and sunny. I refuse to complain about days like that, but it seems to me that beginnings ought to be dark and cold. I think they need the teasing, playful wind and the stark beauty of bare tree branches that have the strength to wait for what will grow.
I’ve been listening to Gregory Alan Isakov’s “3 a.m.” song during these new, dark days. It’s a sad, wandering song, but that’s why I like it. I think in order to begin there must be a letting go, and that can make for some sad, confusing times. Most dreams and hopes don’t have a direct route; they tend to send us meandering and exploring.
“Give me darkness when I’m dreaming,” Isakov sings, and I think that sums up how I want my beginning to feel like.
The wind has stopped, and I no longer see my reflection in the window but a light gray morning. Plump snowflakes fall. I hope more than an inch of snow comes down today. I hope this part of the word is layered in bright darkness, so we sit with that strong opposite and see what can grow from there.
This week take note of the sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and touches of January. Consider your hopes and dreams for the new year. See if you can put those hopes and dreams in a poem together with the bright darkness of January.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Will Willingham that we enjoyed.
Photo by Maja Dumat, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Callie Feyen.
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But the fall of a peanut butter sandwich—
open face down!—softness striking cold
plank with a muffled thwack
that belies the deafening chorus
of kindergarten souls suspended
in time asked again to relive
the grief of comfort spread
upon comfort absorbed
into substrate for all time,
anything but quiet.