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, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

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

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I did not expect to fall in love with poetry. I just expected to recite and be done with it. After just sitting there and analyzing my poems, I realized that the stories told through these few words mean so much. I had to step out of myself and step into the author's shoes, and with that comes great work."
Kyla Rose Bates
2016 LA POL Champion