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Summer at North Farm

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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.

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)

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This poem originally appeared in the August 1989 issue of Poetry magazine

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Summer at North Farm

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  • Stephen Kuusisto was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. Blind since birth, he attended Hobart College where he earned a BA and the University of Iowa, where he earned an MFA. He is the author of Only Bread, Only Light: Poems (2000) and the award-winning memoir, Planet of the Blind. Kuusisto has received a number of awards and honors ranging from a poetry fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council and a Fulbright fellowship to a distinguished Teaching Award from Hobart & William Smith Colleges.

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