Six Months of Sunrise: Joyous Feasts of Light

by Elizabeth Cunningham

Six months ago come Christmas Day my husband and I moved from our house in the woods in the fold of a stream valley to High Valley. Because of the pond (affectionately known as Lake Almosta) there is much more sky, much more places from which to observes the comings and goings of great celestial bodies. It has become my practice to go outside and greet the sun every morning, veiled in clouds or not. It has been thrilling to track the sun’s journey to the southeastern sky and my own corresponding trek around the pond to catch the first light. 

Winter cold has not been a deterrent, and I have discovered that no matter how unpromising the dawn looks from inside, outside it is always an event. The birds agree, and I always look to see which ones are gathered in the bare top of the tallest spruce, which accommodates hawks, crows, and sparrows by turns.

 Many people see dawn because they have to commute. All three of my jobs are right here, so I get to see the sunrise only because I want to. Sometimes I think it matters, that greeting the sun is one of our tasks as humans. The practice has changed my life and gotten me through a major depression, which now seems to be lifting. When I can, I watch the sunset, too.

 If I ran for president (or perhaps ruler of the world) my platform would be simple. Everyone stop everything at sunrise and sunset. Just be still and remember where you are: riding through bright dark unfathomable immensity on a whirling, circling, beautiful bit of dust.

I close with some December poems in the form of tanka (5-7-5-7-7 syllables)
Wishing you all joyous feasts of light as the year dawns!

 outside my window
the intricacy of trees
by winter revealed
black sinuous branches bared
leaf-bereft, ablaze with stars


whatever weather
all mornings are beautiful
when you are outside
this one: grey, soft as my cat
warm wind swirling clouds and trees 

moon and sun

across the dance floor
bright dim dawn and evening skies
the two dancers gaze
moon and sun in earth’s dark wings
bathed in their love light I spin 


winter made a rough draft
a sketchy sheet of thin ice
erased by warm rain
now back to the blank wet pond
with a cold determined wind

triple sunrise

first clearing earth’s rim
then one cloud and another
thrice I greet the sun
each time the brightest of stars
a match struck to light the world

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Unknown December 21, 2011 - 2:22 pm

Beautiful! And your tanka journal, for so it is, is striking.

Sylvia Baber December 21, 2011 - 9:19 pm

Thank you for the gift of poetry on a dreary afternoon.

Brooke December 27, 2011 - 8:36 am

So beautiful. Thank you so much for this post, feeding my soul. XO to you.


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