Poem: For Winter Solstice

I was asked to write a poem for the EarthSpirit Community’s annual Open Yule celebration.  While I’ve written other poems for the Solstice, at other times, I felt it was time to write a new one (Gordon’s recent — and justified — warnings about the dangers of falling too deeply into the Eight Greats rabbit-hole aside).  Anyway, I wrote a poem for them; I will be reading it during the Open Yule celebration on the fourth floor of the FitzWilly’s building on Sunday night, 15 December 2013, in Northampton, MA.  If you’re available, please join us — it’s really a lovely ritual with some amazingly beautiful moments.
I’m enough of an Anglican and a NeoPlatonist, even in my Druidic studies, to know the importance of following the via media between the via positiva and the via negativa.   Accordingly, I wrote a poem that tries to balance these concerns of mine, between the darkness and cold and death on one side, and the light and the warmth and the life on the other.  We’re deep in the dark half of the year, these days; sundown comes at the time I’m normally going for an afternoon walk, and it’s darker than summer midnights by dinner-time.  As a result, the life/light/warmth parts are bare notes in a symphony of darkness and winter.  I still think it will work.
Bristling darkness, we bow and obey
the stern command laid down in ages past,
that when the Sun trudges its southern way,
it’s time to take shelter from icy blast
and bone-bending chill. Pile up your wood;
but remember it burns swift at first cold…
and recall how long this season stretches.
Festival fires are cheerful and good,
but death in winter’s a story so old,
we often forget what truths it teaches:
be the neighbor with a shovel to spare,
or an extra hand on the icy road.
keep the larder full — with something to share,
and let no work become a heavy load
for one heart alone. Praise all sunny days,
though short, with clouds of steaming breath outdoors,
leave gifts for squirrel and raucous-voiced jay.
Let your intentions bend when blizzard plays
on your roof; or when influenza roars
though your house: darkness and cold rule this day,
and many more dawns and dusks yet to be.
Wait On Small Hopes: the husk of the seed cracks,
though the pale white shoots have yet to work free.
Both fox and turkey make familiar tracks
performing their daily obligations,
unless they meet in a scuffle of snow
smeared with scarlet and broken brown feather.
Winter shall claim her lawful libations,
but Darkness will shrink, and the Light will grow,
promising life and warmer weather.
May your holiday season be merry and bright.  Whatever traditions you celebrate, may you find warmth and cheer in the darkness.
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