Winter Dawn Bare Trees, photograph by Dean Pennala, pixels.com
Look into the morning
Listen to silence, to stillness
Bare blue sky, Bones of trees
Pale cold sunshine
Look to the leaves
Listen to the wind
Wings fluttering between branches
Tails slipping up, down, over, under
Flurries of motion
Cutting though quiet
Piano keys playing an arpeggio
Waking me, Speaking to me
Asking with each note
If I will Hang On
To the Descending
If I will Rise
Copyright @Stacie Eirich January 22, 2024
Written in solitude and relative silence, this poem has a lonely tone ringing through it. We tend to think of loneliness as something unwanted, something that says we need more connection with others, more of humanity’s music.
But it isn’t that kind of loneliness that I feel when sitting alone on mornings like these. It is solitary, yes, and January’s chill can be bitter. But this is the kind of aloneness that a writer sometimes seeks; it brings a clarity that opens up space. A pause. A breath.
And in that breath, I write a few lines. Sometimes, like in the poem above, they are spare. But it is the space I need to begin another day. And there is nature’s music in it, like the arpeggios found in the fluttering of wings, the tails of squirrels, and the shimmer of leaves.
As 2024 begins its ascent, I am seeking spaces of solitude in the hours of dawn. This dawn practice of finding art in the early hours is, I think, one familiar to poets, painters, musicians, thinkers and creators of many different mediums. There is a translucent quality to it that breaks barriers, allowing something fresh to come to the page or palette, the instrument or storyboard.
And though it may be too cold to sit outside with my notebook and pen, I gravitate to a chair that faces the windows, the trees, the sky. Nature holds power to bring inspiration; even if I’m not sitting underneath the trees I find creativity in watching and listening to them. The same can be said of the patterns in the wind, the colors of the light, the presence or absence of animals or sound.
In this morning’s lines I felt both presence and absence, both light and a lack of it. The bones of the trees were my bones and my blank page, the day opened before me with a kind of clarity that can only be found in solitude.
In January last year, I found solitude in walking the spaces outside the hospital and housing where my child and I were living in Memphis. It is a breath and a grief that lingers this January, a presence and absence of light that finds me at home just as it did in a city 400 miles away. And in that breath of sky, in swaying trees and sunlight is where hope resides.
And so I thank the morning for this spare poem, and for giving me the breath in which to write it. I will hang on through whatever winter brings, and rise to greet the promise of spring.
Thank you for being here, and for reading. If you’d like to listen to this poem and the thoughts that followed it — you can find the audio on my podcast, Poetry for Peace, Season 4: A New Dawn — available on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google & more.