Sunday, December 24, 2017

the dominance of dark, the gift of light

Winter Solstice ‘17

today began and ends 
with a gray shroud swallowing the world,
just beyond the nearby trees,

yesterday rain socked us in
and raised the streams into full-throated power,

the early morning lightly misting, and all is wet,

midmorning the sun reminds us that it’s still there,
a few patches of blue in the sky,
and a few moments of diffuse sunbeam
right as the Sun pauses its drop to the south
and starts its six month climb back to the north,

we pull ourselves two miles up a steep mountain
at the time of that pausing,
up toward where the Great Fire started thirteenth months ago

on those twin pinnacles of stone
commonly called the Chimney Tops,

the last half of the trail a work of art
with countless rock steps snaking up the steep slope,
particularly where a small stream
beautifully slices and dances downward,
while leg and lung and heart labor upwards,

at the top a gorgeous view gifts itself upon us,
though the ravages of the Great Fire
strip away the comfort this view had for years,

in the afternoon, sauna and creek call me
to cleanse myself with sweat and bracing stream,

night now comes on and reminds me
that the Winter Solstice is more of the dark than of the light,

how much more of wonder is life today
because of how heavy the darkness is now,

the leaves still hold to the beech,
the ember lightness of their brown draws my eye,

as does the bright green of moss
and the sure green of the rhododendron,

no time is only of the one,
the other also has its part.

by Henry H. Walker
December 21, ’17

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