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Summer Solstice on the West Coast of Ireland, a poem by James Green

Summer Solstice on the West Coast of Ireland

This afternoon the sun is more a rumor,
probably still high behind a stretch
of somber clouds in shades of dappled grey.
The wind is brisk and plumes of ocean spray
rise against the cliffs and sea foam drifts
all the way to the bog, settles on the stubble
of freshly cut hay and backs of sheep that face
to lee, huddled against the day marked
as the longest since the age of hoary-haired men
dressed in ragged wool capes who aligned
boulders to measure their place in creation,
who tuned their lives to follow the light
like the lilies on the bank of the estuary.
It’s why I’ve come here, a blow-in like
the neckless starlings motionless on the wire. 
Sometimes they fly to a standstill against the wind
before suddenly rising as one winged flight
into an updraft, turning with the precision
of a drill team, becoming specks then disappearing.
Yes, it’s why I’ve come here.  I come here
to be neither here nor there, to be in a place
where strange is familiar, where it is normal
on summer solstice to light a turf fire,
its fragrance taking hold of you.

James Green (Jim) has worked as a naval officer, deputy sheriff, high school English teacher, professor of education, and administrator in both public schools and universities. Recipient of two Fulbright grants, he has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Limerick in Ireland and the National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. His academic publications include three books, as well as numerous monographs and articles in professional journals. He has published three chapbooks of poetry (Stations of the Cross and Barely Still, Barely Stirring, both with Finishing Line Press, and The Color of Prayer: Poems on Rembrandt Painting the Bible with Shanti Arts Books), and individual poems have appeared in literary magazines in England, Ireland, and the USA. He lives in Muncie, Indiana.