The green clock.

Samhain, and the nights draw in
and we move closer, stand together,
a little out of time, a little closer
to the edge of everything. Tick tock,
and it is midnight, and all we can do
is hope the light will make its way to us,
this darkest, longest night, tick tock
Imbolc – first signs of spring,
the snowdrops standing in the rain
and the fat buds of daffodils –
tick tock – the equinox – the world in balance

We stand on the edge
but how much leverage do we have?
We’re the disruptors –
that’s what humans do,
we tinker with our clever fingers,
fouling the mechanism. Tick tock.

Beltane, and the fires are lit
and lovers leap across the flames,
the heavy scent of mayflowers –
tick tock – and we hang suspended
in the light, right at the top
of the year’s wheel and tick tock
Lugnasagh and we start
our harvest, knead the first dough
of the first loaf, bite the first apple,
and we are rich and tick tock
equinox, and now we reap
what we have sown.

Samhain, and the nights draw in
it’s getting colder. Hold my hand.
let’s stand here, close together,
struggling by firelight,
trying to fix the mechanism,
fingers not so clever now,
each tiny wheel, each cog.
We scrabble for them.

Tick tock.

This is for this week’s Earthweal challenge: A Clockwork Green. 

I was really uncertain what to write for this one, and then something kind of bubbled up. I’ve been bumping into druids recently – not real ones, but I heard a pair of druids on the radio, and then a druid cropped up in a book, and then another one. Sometimes you are tuned into something, and I wondered if this was one of those times. One of the things that struck me was the fact that druid’s see the year as a circle, with celebrations every 6 weeks – the solar festivals of solstice and equinox, and then intervening festivals – Imbolc (1 February), Beltane (my birthday festival! Obviously), Lughnasa (first harvest – start of August) and Samhain – roughly Halloween.

Obviously the druids worked to a northern European calendar.

I quite like the idea of regular celebrations, linked to the seasons, to nature and the cycle of planting and harvesting. We have lost so many of these festivals. We still have Christmas, obviously, and Easter, but the harvest festival has slipped away, and who celebrates Imbolc now? We need more celebrations and more awareness of the natural world.

So this poem is where the druids led me.


8 thoughts on “The green clock.

  1. So much here to think about, and I also went back and looked at the Earthweal post.
    It’s fascinating and a bit overwhelming. . .hmmm. . .perhaps like time, which fascinates me even while making my brain hurt when I think about it.
    You’re right about the celebrations. I think most cultures had them–tied to the seasons or natural world. I know there are Jewish holidays that celebrate harvests, trees, etc. but I couldn’t tell you what they are or when exactly. 🙂


  2. I love how you begin “a little closer to the edge of everything.” That we are. I love the tick tock of the seasons and the naming of the celebrations. I especially love the leap over the fire. I have seen that once, years ago. I really like your closing, the standing closer together, the fingers scrabbling, trying to fix the mechanism. I so enjoy your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tick Tock. Around the seasons we go : “We’re the disruptors –
    that’s what humans do,
    we tinker with our clever fingers,
    fouling the mechanism” and yet the mechanism continues, a living breathing ceremony that can go on without us. I like the repetition of tick tock, the return to the not quite so nimble fingers. We are mortal, thank the gods!


  4. There’s a sharp contrast here between real-time and mythic or sidhe-time–one “tweaked” as it were, as one fools with a clock or smokes crystal meth (both have similar cultural affect) versus the old time of Earth festivals in celebration of the Great Year. Perhaps tweaked, disrupted and disordered time can find glass for its crazy sands again in the old festivals–not sure about the literal druids, to me there’s something cosplay about that–but certainly though in a poem which holds both together, is a literate recalibration. Vanishing time is grounded by long time, yes! My father spent decades creating a harmonium of standing stones, forest paths and seasonal festivals (the ones you mention above) in eastern Pennsylvania. He’s gone now but the community remains there, celebrating another kind of time. My second contribution to earthweal this week explores that kind of time–it’s kindness and savor and grace. Thanks so for bringing this to earthweal. — Brendan


  5. There’s a fine, dark-and-light pagan feel to this, and of course, you have aced the sense of seasonal progression we once built our lives around, but is now changed to things like Black Friday consumerism, Christmas extravaganza, or too-sweet Easter candy. I especially like the craftsmanship of bookending Samhain at beginning and end, and I do think you’ve written a true description of what we are, with our clever, self-absorbed fingers, better sometimes at stealing and breaking than fixing.


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