Inside/Outside by Karen Arnold

The moon goes murky

my darkened kitchen

smells of peppermint tea

Alice in Wonderland–Our Lady of the Lake

collect around me

under the apricot smudge

that lately lit porch chairs

blue under carapace tarps

In this odd dark

a copper deck chime

calls the Lady of Avalon's acolytes

to Druid rites on nights

colder than this minus 6 degree wind chill

Wind, strange sister seeking asylum,

wraps me with a care for night travel

I press my cheek to the cold window

watch the moon swim

backward from light


Karen Arnold writes: As a literary wanderer, my journey has included: being Poet-in-Residence at Montpelier Cultural arts Center in Laurel, MD; teaching at universities in the United States, Sweden and Norway; teaching creative writing and autobiography writing to adults and children; creating and facilitating reading and discussion series in Literature and Medicine and for veterans in conjunction with Maryland Humanities, local hospitals, libraries and cultural arts centers. Along the way I got a Masters and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland College Park where I worked with Reed Whittemore, former US Poet Laureate and spent a year as assistant Director of Freshman Composition. I live and work in Maryland within easy reach of the wide ocean beaches I love.

Author's note

On an icy winter night, wind blowing snow like glitter, sky gauzed with clouds, I wrapped in a long robe and scarf—stepped out to watch a lunar eclipse. Near midnight, in snow quiet, I felt removed from the world, despite the row of townhouses I stood in front of. My daughters, a missing mother; Sissel, my friend I was certain was watching in Trondheim, played through my mind as the slow disc began to erase the full moon. In minutes I had to return to the house for warmth but my mind stayed busy….myths, fortune tellers telling fortunes on nights like this, ideas of rebirth and disappearance. I knew the process would be slow so ventured out to mark the moon’s erasure. I got so cold I gave up and went inside, up to my kitchen where wide sliding doors framed the moon’s last phase of surrender. Holding a cup of peppermint tea, I stood transfixed…Alice in Wonderland’s strange world of croquet and an eccentric queen swirled in the steam with The Lady of the Lake…Druid of mystic power and ancient rites. I moved to the door, mesmerized. With my cheek against the cold reminder of my separation, I felt pulled to worlds steeped in mystery and delights...the moon’s elusive kingdom. This is one of three eclipse poems that came to and through me that night.