Why do we say it’s brisk when it’s cold outside?
Brisk; fast, quick, sharp movements. Lively; with vigor.
Is the cold vigorous? Perhaps it more describes us:
Rushing out of the icy air into warm abodes
Breath like fog and eyes sparkling diamonds
In mines of glowing red;
Or speed shuffling shoes sliding over
Slick puddles frozen into deathtraps
That cannot be avoided, only dealt with
Like the krypton factor of winter!
Brisk; panting at the effort
Of climbing the glass mountain
One step forward, two steps not only backwards
But sideways, upwards and all over the place.
Brisk; the hands that shake at 500 hertz
And placed under jumpers next to warm hearts.
But cold makes us slow, makes us clumsy,
And when ice gives way to snow
The whole world seems to dwindle like a tape
Set on to slow-mo; frame by frame
As the soft and dangerous white
Bold and bright
Ancient days and
Of life eternal
As child, as maid
As mother fair.
As soul so heavy
Limp with care.
And dusty trails
In gore and guts;
The viscera of life’s true trials
The lies and laughs
The way and wiles
Of those who tempt
And those you trust
Of what you need
And what you lust.
Now that rut it cuts both ways
A path you built through shining days
A light beside, a glow before: Lead on and find your core.
(c) Mabh Savage 2012
Cloak of hair
Like yarn spun wild
For a coat of dreams
Of war and time
To pass the line
The blood along
Like velvet wine
Lady great and fierce of heart
Builds you up then tears apart
Protect thyself but know her if you can.
(c) Mabh Savage 2012
I write my ending at the beginning; not as pretentious as it sounds, I promise. As we move into a new year (according to the Gregorian calendar) I am in the final stages of my book, A Modern Celt, with a promise to myself and more importantly my publisher to have the beast whipped by Imbolc. Why did I choose this day? Well, Imbolc is all about new beginnings; fresh new starts; fresh young shoots bursting tumescent and hopeful from moist earth; pale, youthful sun hovering over a cloudy horizon; rain and wind cleansing the land and reducing the last of autumn’s fall to compost, ready to feed the new season. I will pass on my offering at this time; my sacrifice of hours and brain power and stiff back and aching eyes and I will give it to the world and wait for it to blossom in the warm sunshine of the beloved reader. Of course I will also be out in the garden tidying and digging, getting ready for the new season in a much more physical and vital way; weeds to banish, seeds to sow; paths to sweep clear. But some paths are ready to be walked upon- may you find your path in 2013, and I wish us all the strength to continue putting one foot in front of the other, as the wheel turns with every spin of our beautiful earth.
So this is the pause: as far as the Earth’s tilt is concerned, here in the Northern hemisphere we’re as far from the sun as can be. The sun set at about 15.30 on a damp but not freezing day, full of consumption and speed and aggravation- in the cities at least. I left this behind. I went to the woods and remembered magic. I touched the oak and felt the sap beating through its wooden veins in anticipation of the returning sun. I felt the birch’s paper bark; scrolls that tell the story of many generations. I sat in front of a tree so old it looks now like a great open hand; like the earth itself is reaching up to join the sky. I closed my eyes and felt the rain trickle down my neck like tiny living creatures; listened to it roll around the bare branches and muddy rocks. I touched the soil and the dead leaves and became winter incarnate. I smelled the motionless air full of the promise of longer days and became the turning earth suddenly stilled. I took a deep breath- and remembered magic.
I hate the dentist. Well, not the actual dentist. He’s a very nice man who listens and puts up with my neurosis (and everyone else’s of course). But the whole experience of sitting there, plastic shield over eyes, light searing the face, powerless while a masked woman sucks saliva out of my mouth with an alien device while the screeching scrapers and scalers wind up their wails of hygienic horror. I know that once that whirring dirvish of pain hits the back of my incisors I will tense like I’ve had a cattle prod gently applied to the base of my spine. So what do I do? Well, my friend once did a guided meditation with us where we journeyed to a place in a forest, and there was a great stone to lie on. This place is safe and tranquil. While my mouth is under assault, I close my eyes and let my other feet take me through the path to the trees. I climb onto the rock and at first I am clinging to it, as if it turned vertical and I am hanging off, about to fall. Then gradually as I focus on being in this calm place, I relax and am laying on the stone as if it is a cool, gravelly bed. After a while I get up. I dangle my feet in the stream close by, and watch the shadows of fish darting away. I glance up to see a fox watching me. Before I examine this place further, I am being winched up and ordered to rinse and spit. My mouth hurts but I don’t mind so much now. As I leave, I check the time. 7 minutes. From ordeal to fantasy therapy, I was in that room for only 7 minutes! This tells me several things- mainly, that I’m a terrible wimp, but also that the human mind is a wondrous and powerful machine, and that I have some very special friends.
Sometimes time alone is not what one needs. Sometimes the quiet outside, allowing the thoughts to free fall through the tumbling anarchy of one’s mind, is the enemy of action. How can you choose when there are so many options? How can you move from this space, where silence surrounds but chaos pervades the space within? Input, you cry out, input from someone who is not living it, not crawling through it, not mired to the waist in the quicksand of problems created not by your solitude, but not aided by it either. Meditation and calm can gently guide your mind to a solution, but when sitting alone only highlights the clamour inside: get out, get out, get out. Pick up the phone, visit, speak to someone. Get some perspective. For lights shine not only from within you, but from within all of us.