Cam Scott is Contributing Editor to Cheek Teeth and currently a Writer-in-Residence for Fishtrap. Read more of his monthly column here, or check out his other writing here.
February: the time of the white-blue sky and golden white moraine and white and silver lake. There is, of course, that certain slant of light from a sun half hidden by clouds, thirty to forty degrees, heading on its late February arc. And yes, February does shiver, deliver papers, and become the fodder for song. And to be certain, I am not the only one glad that Valentine’s Day is gone, over, finished, at least for another year. Make no mistake, February is the shortest month for a reason.
Besides steelhead fishing, about the only other thing I can think February is good for, is poetry. When that soft straight light begins to emerge from the dark dregs of January, before my hormones become completely ransacked by March’s spring break suns, there is an awakening of sorts, at least in that place for me where poetry springs forth.
It is not as powerful as the condensing of the hard light of fall, the light brigades, the freeze thaw tang of winter in the air, the last ditch efforts of late October and November at soaking up sunlight. It is not the dawning of a new age like the opening bing-bang dawning of Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” or Copeland’s “Fanfair for the Common Man.” The soft straight light of February is more like Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.”
The soft straight light of February is something that starts to seep through the veins like a strong port, the realization that it is ok to get drunk and fall in love with life again, even though the real spring is a long way off, and sleeping outside, even under the protection of a tent or a truck topper will not guarantee that your water jug won’t freeze, or that you don’t need some sort of insanity to plow through late winter dumps of snow or rain.
There are a few words in life I dislike more than germinate. What a wrongish word! And a few words I love: Bam! Dusk. Rivers. The soft straight light of February promises all of these things and more, but also, that there is still time: time to stretch, time to heal, time to search our inner contemplative buckets of brilliance, hours and hours to write before the madness and mayhem of summer descends.
The time of soft straight light is now. Here we are, hanging on strings of white, blue, silver, and gold. Good enough. Grand enough. Get afterable enough. Enough already, go sit in some soft straight light and write.