I’m not a huge fan of Christmas but I love the winter solstice and all the traditions associated with bringing fire and light to the dark of the season. More than new year, to me this is the point of turning, when new plans can be laid down and seeds planted, as the creeping dark of winter loses its grip.
This poem was written in the white-out winter of 2010 / 2011, when snow fell from late November onward. On the morning of a fresh snow fall, I went out with a camera and photographed my local neighbourhood where, even after weeks of winter chaos, the clean white and muffled quiet cast its spell.
The evening is like snow, cold and fleeting,
a fading spectacle, churned grey and ploughed
to hard-rutted tracks, as commuters tramp and crowd
into its darkness; we lose all trace of ourselves
and take comfort: here we are all lost,
drifting deeper, and afraid of our own silence;
at the street’s fold blink white pockets, bright
in gutters, quiet sparks defying twilight,
as the orange of city lamp fogs all.
And dawn is like snow: an invitation;
it takes the courage of a child to seize it
and reveal, in each warm hand, a miracle;
we choose our shape in the whisper of morning –
the cave of a fallen leaf, the breath of feathers
on our own whiteness, the padding of beasts within,
pacing out the length and breadth of beauty
and, taken by surprise, we surrender,
falling, to the beat of a standstill sun.
Winter Solstice is included in the debut collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life, published by Bradshaw Books.