Pre-Imbolc Poetry & Meditations on a Swiftly Tilting Planet

It’s the end of January.

This morning began with a downpour and a thunderstorm. We never have thunderstorms in January; they’re a feature of Summer here in the mystical MidAtlantic. But we had one this morning, just as I had to grab a cab (it takes magic to get a cab in the rain in DC; luckily, I know a good spell).

Then, within the hour, the rain cleared out and it was sunny and windy, a perfect March day, here at the end of January. I walked to lunch holding onto my scarf for fear it would blow off between my office and my lunch meeting at Morton’s.

This evening I drove home along the banks of the Potomac River and Spout Run watching salmon and purple clouds run ahead of the wind. There’s an exquisite fingernail of a crescent Moon hanging low in the West.

Global climate change is turning everything topsy turvy. Nothing knows when to bloom anymore. This week, the USDA released the new hardiness zone map (Zone 7b! Represent!) for the US, clearly showing zone creep. There’s sadness, indeed, in watching Gaia heave and moan, trying to give birth to a new equilibrium. She’s indeed, at the moment, a swiftly tilting planet. But it’s also a gift, to be present at this limbic time, this moment of shift, this time sacred to Hecate.

In just a few days, it will be Imbolc. Sacred to the Goddess Brigid, patroness of poets and blacksmiths, Imbolc always represents a big shift along the Wheel of the Year. Days are now noticeably longer. Anne Hill will be organizing her annual Imbolc poetry slam. May your Imbolc be blessed and may you find new ways to be in relationship with the spirits and powers of your own Bit of Earth, with the animals, and plants, and microbes, and rocks, and clouds that live there.

Here, in anticipation, is a poem about February by Margaret Atwood:


Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

What poem are you readying for Imbolc?

Picture found here. (In comments, Ruth notes that this picture is by the amazing artist Joanna Powell Colbert.)


6 responses to “Pre-Imbolc Poetry & Meditations on a Swiftly Tilting Planet

  1. The beautiful image of Brighid is by the artist Joanna Powell Colbert.

    Fabulous post, and that poem is too close to home for comfort.

  2. Ruth, Thanks; I should have recognized Joanna’s work! I’m going to edit and attribute it. Blessed Imbolc!

  3. Peter of Lone Tree

    Have a look at The Question of Alignment and the iconic 2012. Written for students of the New Cosmology by Thea (Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet) Director, Aeon Centre of Cosmology January 24, 2009.

  4. Peter,

    Thanks; I will add it to the list!! Hec

  5. Poetry season opening for Imbolc — I always look forward to a glut of poems for Bridget every year and right now I’m trawling through AL Stallings and José Antonio Mazzotti.

    Margaret Atwood just blows me away.

  6. Brigid Poetry: have posted poem “Contradance” to Medusa Coils, along with video of one such dance at Glen Echo.
    Climate change: heard birds singing at dawn several days ago. Seems to me it’s early for this along the Potomac.

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