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John Caddy
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John Caddy's
Morning Earth Poems,
December 2001


Full white moon slopes down
on thick snow all night,
draws sharp black on white
from the east, south, west,
her ancient arc pressed again
into our winter sleep blessed
by her insistent gentle light.


Old moon has been pressing and pulling on earth life eternally. What an enormous sharing we experience across the north as moonlight brightens the snow of winter night. Time and space and roundness all renew in moon.



By now there should be light
but earth is swallowed in mist
white as the snow that birthed it.
As crystals collapse into vapor
a cloud has risen from earth
but can't lift into its sky.
The cardinal at the feeder is drained
of his red and dark,
high finch voices cut threads
of sound through white.


This rare mist is not gray, but white as the clouds we pass through in flight..



An eagle graced our place,
strong adult,
white head, gold beak,
cruised the pond,
beat wide black wings
to cup the sky,
spread prime feather tips
against the remnant mist.
Below him, wild turkeys
brocaded leafless brush,
blue heads down.


A few graced moments are our portion. Share them as you can.


Late at night
a young cat
proudly drops
a jet black rat
on the floor
before my chair.
Imagine that.
Cat's brought his rat to play.
The rat is stunned
but recovers and runs
more quickly than the cat,
runs under the couch
and after that,
well, after that…
All I can say is that
it was a lovely rat
but I no longer sat.


True tale. Long tail. In this extended winter night once called morning there is little to do but play. I'm pleased to have avoided 'prat' and 'fat.' I'm especially pleased to report that the rat was live trapped and released north of Seattle, far away.



The sickle moon rides the deep
night sky of azure
fading in the east toward dawn,
where rose will replace
the blinding white of Artemis,
the ulu knife of Inuit,
her tender sickle.


All the interconnections of humanity's mythologies seem to be fusing now in a new synthesis. The oldest images resonate most deeply in our minds.



On every surface of dawn
crystals exclaim the light,
bounce it off ice facets,
aim it at my eyes.

The sky is distant blue,
Magritte with clouds.
At my feet oak leaves
and grass blades
sparkle into life.


Applaud winter's ordinary wonders. They are simple things that grow more intricate the more closely you look.


Thirty wild turkeys step in file
across the pond's new ice, place
spread toes wide with care.
The file is slow to cross but appears
in furtive haste, bodies
lean and necks stretch
forward at one acute angle
thirty times reprised.
None trusts the ice except the first.
With an inch of snow they wouldn't care
and wouldn't know.


Nature once again holds her mirror to the human face. The gulf between us and our cousins is largely our fantasy.



The cold is finally deep enough to sink
below the surfaces.
Beneath brown leaves the paws
of squirrels rake for acorns,
below the slowed lives of insect eggs,
frost sketches its way down through soil
as crystals grow ferns upon a windowpane.
Grain by grain bits of soil harden in
a net of filaments that would gleam in light
but burrow deeper into dark
to mark the sinking frost line.
At the bite of ice earthworms
unwind their tangled ball,
nose their way toward gravity,
and toads hunched in cold drowse
dig further down with strong hind feet
as routinely as we roll in blankets
in our hot mammal sleep.


Is the frost beautiful when unseen? I don't know, but I do know the winter adaptations of northern creatures are marvels. How tempting to sleep away the winter, but most mammal hearts beat too fast for that torpid luxury.



No snow.
Our twenty inches melted.
No garden cloak,
no safeguard from the beaks of birds
for next year's seeds
There's no renewal
of the eye, no softening,
no revelation of
the contours of the land,
no drifts to teach us
shapes of winds invisible,
no white
to magic moon at night.


When the very earth seems out of synch, we are disquieted. All I can celebrate this morning is what was.



Light so early fades late afternoons.
I kick at leaves,
a flash of white, a concavity,
the nutmeat of an acorn
nibbled down to quick
by strong sharp teeth which leave
only this shelled curve
layered thin with oakseed meat
long since turned to squirrel.
The tree provides,
the quick of tooth survive.
Across the marsh birches white
as daylight fades.


All signs of light or white are welcome in this snowless solstice dark. Go kick some leaves.



Sun is done now,
Dark has come.
O sun, where have you gone?
Why did you go?
Shall I stay in dark
or shall I go too?
Why is it dark?
Sun is done now,
Dark has come.

   —Heather Yang, grade 3  

How long do you suppose human beings have been uttering this pre-solstice lament? Heather is nine or ten. This is her first draft.



Two dozen sparrows gather
in the faded honeysuckle vine
to catch the slant December rays.
their natter is continuous
while beaks nip and nip
at yellowed vines,
like ladies knitting
in the village square,
keeping busy, taking sun.


We are not so different from the canny sparrow. Likes attract.



Through the daring branches high
squirrels chase each other everywhere,
up and down tree trunks,
and yesterday romped across glare ice,
race and glide, race and glide, try
to double back but skid
like furry kids.
On the bark they never slip
but on pond ice they sprawl.
I catch my breath,
this ice is only skin.


Every mammal seems to love chasing and being chased. Squirrel chases are Earth-class. And they pull you in as if they were human children, but of course they're neither.

Here's a bonus Solstice story from Mee Yang, age 8, from Mounds Park World Cultures School, St. Paul, MN.

Long ago, the Light of the sun shone on earth. Then Dark came and took Light away. The people and plants and animals didn't have Light to help them. They all said, "Don't take Light away! We need Light, and we need you, too. If we don't have Light, we won't see anything!" yelled the plants and people and animals. Dark got sad and went away.
Then Light came back. The people and plants and animals were really happy. They wanted to pay Light back for helping them, they should make Light happy. So the people and plants and animals all made a Party for Light.



Copyright © 2004 John Caddy