When the Wind is Southerly

This entry is part 34 of 38 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life

A sudden south wind buffets the house, roars in the ridgetop trees for a few minutes & dies. I go out to take a leak. The moon hasn’t risen yet & it’s dark. Nightcrawlers rustle under the lilac, dragging fragments of leaves into the ground.

Wood smoke: must be from the Amish in Sinking Valley. I inhale greedily. On the other side of the mountain, the deep labored thrum of a locomotive is followed a long minute later by the whistle—an almost orgasmic release.

At this time of night, it would be perfectly reasonable to confuse a hawk with a handsaw. In the crawlspace under my floor, some small mammal scratches the cold-air return duct with restless, dreaming claws.

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10 Comments


  1. Sharp, vivid and seasonal. I like the sense of nature at work beneath woodsmoke and train whistle.

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  2. Thanks, guys. I’m glad to hear this worked for you, because I really wasn’t sure whether it held together, with only the barest hint of a thematic thread.

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  3. I’ve been stumping round the house singing this ever since reading this post. Although arguably not quite so well.

    Woodsmoke is I think the most evocative of all smells for me. Every now and then I catch a snatch on the breeze while cycling through London and am immediately transported to multiple other destinations in space and time.

    I had to google nightcrawlers. Imagine having the job title “nightcrawler hunter”. Funkadelic.

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    1. I didn’t know about that song. Nice tune. Agreed about woodsmoke. And yes, nightcrawlers are very cool… even if they are an invasive species here.

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