Meditations at the Winter Solstice

by Elsa Johnson


Night comes early        this time of year             Short twilight

days          fade to dull   washed over dim                  northeast

Ohio winter days                                      edged to collapse   — 

dark         into deeper darkness                           Entire days of

not-day-not-night          almost-but-not-quite            gloaming

Solstice    in a few short days                                  Not a good

climate for   New Grange effect                                   The sun  

so rarely shines                            one would not think to build

a long      cold       slot of stone                        for sun to creep

up    and back down   again             One might wait years    —

How many                  millennium                        would it take

to connect                cause and effect                in this climate?    

Brighter gloaming on   snow-glow nights                   Brighter             

nights than days                                   when snow is grounded


When I was young             I stacked my skis          outside my

door       strapped them on       on winter nights            floated     

almost       soundless      past blackened woods     and     fields

gleaming       bright      in darkness                 (hint of borealis

in blue-black sky)    But these days      creep     to Solstice  —

to beyond                               when     we begin to look for  —

notice     hope     for                       the almost     imperceptible

lengthening      of curtailed light                          toward larger

hours                  The bulk of winter looms ahead             cold

and beautiful                                   but someone has to shovel

walk    and drive         —        at this age one feels     once     is

enough         :        Lake effect weather          dark       to aging

bones               that wish to strap on skis        and flee        fear

less           into wild and quiet         snow-stunned          nights