Hail, fragile morning, shortest day of year,
who stands Sun still, upon appointed rounds:
How bright and welcoming must he appear
to all creation, from cloud-top to ground.
In burrow and seed-bed, in acorn-heart,
alchemy commences with single step.
Light triggers sense, keys gland, and hormones race;
all manner of mortal engines restart
since renewal remains familiar trope;
Sun’s return declares continuing grace.
Holly king and Horned Lord in woods hold sway,
favoring courtiers coyote and crow.
Fox and fisher cat shall both have their day
ere icy streams with snowmelt start to flow.
Each bush and branch has stories to relate,
each names old deeds in her own ancient tongue.
Even now, chestnuts and choke cherries wait;
chipmunks and starlings shall ground seeds in earth,
that Earth may seem verdant once more, and young.
Soon sing we cantos of crackling ice,
games of owl and wrens in iron-green sky
that cloud-covers and strip-teases Moon’s face:
pale lady playing upon winter rye.
Night, stippled with fresh-conjured auguries:
caress our yearning with rich inventions
and gift with joy these scattered congeries
who offer hymns at return of Sun’s rays
and anchor with sweat their good intentions.