Happy solstice, everyone.

I spent a good portion of my twenties trying to figure out how to write poems that felt like botanical illustrations. I can hardly even describe what I mean by that, but it had to do with writing poems that showed the beauty, verisimilitude, patterns, and horror of nature. I failed in that particular task, but Talvikki Ansel succeeded.

To continue my poem-off with the lovely Sarah W., here is a poem from Ansel’s “Working from Catesby’s Birds of Virginia” series that to me is summer. (I once lived under that same sun in a house that had a copy of Catesby’s Birds.)

Folio Pages


Sun shoots off the metal cab

of the tractor, the mower

roars nearer and nearer


this panic I feel

at the edge of the field.

Sun shimmers the grass stalks,

constant zip, zip of insects.


The engine louder

as it swings back along the hill

towards me picking Ruellia humilis

to draw in my spiral journal,


sleep seems such a waste these days.

How hot it used to be

weeding the gardens at Monticello


all those years ago,

sun burning through my shirt

leaving a white bra stripe.


The mower closer now

to the dip below the fence line,

I can see into the cab, dread


a greeting. He waves, I wave—

it was nothing—climb over the stile

into the woods. Shady, too shady,

and the countless spiders.

(Talvikki Ansel, Jetty and Other Poems, Zoo Press, 2003)

What impossible thing do you always try to write?

11 responses to “Solstice

  1. I love this poem, indy. But . . . no fireflies?

    My impossible thing to write is romantic feelings . . . I feel like I’m encroaching on my character’s privacy, even though I apparently have no problems describing their lavatory visits in excruciating detail.

  2. Beautiful poem. I am not well versed in poetry and have been relying on you folks to educate me. Thanks. (Talvikki was the name of my main character in my last book…)

  3. I struggle with descriptions of scenery and weather, all those specific little details that make a setting come to life. I’m always hurrying through that stuff, even though I’m drawn to it as a reader.

  4. Pingback: Poetry Wednesday: Taking the Sky From Me | Earful of Cider

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