After the Solstice

Chest deep in fresh powder,
clusters of deer eat the tips
of Summer’s golden grasses,
not waving now. Patient. Roots
sleeping deep under three feet
of snow. Heart-shaped tracks
stitch a trail from hills to house.
Nothing here to threaten them.

Even the dog, who barks in place
like a windup toy, barely stops
their thoughtful chewing.  She who
snores undignified upon the chintz
chair placed–just so–for this.

Dark-eyed Juncos flit and feed
on scattered millet. Their tiny
formal morning coats and black caps,
their silver waistcoats stretched
over rounded breasts and bellies.

We all fatten in the early dark. Pillowed
and insulated by layers of crystals.
Precious, rare, one of a kind, merged
into this one body, undulate, frozen,
shimmering in the lengthening light.

The Last Days

I’m lying in bed this morning watching the snow fall through the dove gray light.  No sunshine although the light came on schedule a little after seven.  Here on the north slopes of the Cascades, we take the Solstice seriously.  A frigid vigil as the sun rises, 108 Sun Salutations, a fire circle ceremony in a ring of candles and song.  Everyone  has their own way of celebrating the end of the darkness and the return of the light–the minute(s) slivers of daylight added to each day as winter arrives.

It’s a paradox.  The dark days of winter start with autumn’s arrival and lift with winter’s. Winter stretches itself into light like a cat until the equinox at the start of spring.

We’re counting down the remnants of the calendar year, but the seasons, older than this conceptual map of days, weeks and months, tell us all we need to know.  The cycle is closing to begin again. Circle inward, beings of light.  Let your hearts warm and shine you through these winter days and nights.