Finnish rural life, ca. 1910

Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches

and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,

the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.

The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.

The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),

and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.

A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come.

Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
  • Stephen Kuusisto, “Summer at North Farm” from Only Bread Only Light. Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Kuusisto. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press,

  • Source: The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (2002)

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