Passing the Dark Time of Year - CB Follett
In winter darkness, old men gathered themselves
and drank and drank of summer.
A fellowship of wine makers
from almost anything but grapes.
Charles used parsnips from his garden, and Hank
picked dandelions, those huge ones that grow
out in country, left alone to blossom and ripen.
No small child cajoled to rip them out, as I once was.
Roger used thistles – he liked a challenge –
and so it went, each to his own vinous horticulture.
Old wives flapped their aprons and clucked
but bottles of dusty bouquet grew in pantries,
the hall wardrobe, barns and tool sheds.
And when winter came, and women went to quilt
or chat, old men gathered to sip and assess
and get tipsy, then roaringly drunk, happy
in each other’s company, and the usefulness of harvest.
The women were unsurprised, heading up lanes
toward home, to see husbands disheveled and ruddy,
weaving toward them, down the same paths.
Sometimes one would be found lying in a snow bank
or planked out where the corn once stood – the wine
acting as rural-antifreeze. Men would haul him
to his feet, rub snow in his face, punch him all over
to wake the fool to consciousness. Dandelion wine,
not the sport of kings, but of hard working farmers,
herders or the local doc with his four in hand.
Last summer goats came to weed the thistles,
thus sparing the soft muzzles of horses. Roger
had already picked his crop. His granddaughters
had made all the powder puffs they could manage:
time for goats; their rounded eyes and silly beards.
CB Follett is the author of 9 books of poems, the most recent OF GRAVITY AND TIDES (2013), and several chapbooks, most recent is WIND ROSE (2014). AT THE TURNING OF THE LIGHT won the 2001 National Poetry Book Award. She is Editor/Publisher of Arctos Press, and was publisher and co-editor (with Susan Terris) of RUNES, a Review of Poetry (2001-2008).
Follett has received numerous nominations for Pushcart Prizes for individual poems, as well as eight nominations as an individual poet. Among other awards and honors she received a Marin Arts Council Grant for Poetry, and is widely published both nationally and internationally.
Follett was Poet Laureate of Marin County, CA, USA. (2010-2013)