As winter solstice nears
dims a little darker
earlier each day

you can almost see
fumbling about 4 o’clock
for keys, a shifty guest who

cannot stay to tea as
has somewhere else to go
into the creeping grey.

For some time now
has been adding minutes
to the mouth of night

encroaching deeper as if
might swallow all of day
into a bottomless black pit.

How those first watchers of
must have quaked in fright
as they saw dark grow longer

longer ’til that winter’s night
suddenly became the longest,
a dead-end, and stopped.

Not able to go further then
turned and by the minute
made its way back toward the light.

72 responses »

    • We take it for granted now, that the sun will rise and set, that there will be the solstice, the equinox, the seasons…..I can only imagine what it was (or may be?) like to have no such reassurances….Thank you, Sylvie 🙂

  1. Love this, Cynthia! It’s just how I feel. And the last stanza is genius (and also something I remind myself of this time of year). The image of the slippery guest works, too and is quite vivid for me.

  2. … and the coldest weather generally lies in the longer days beyond it. … Nicely done, Cynthia … and glad that I got hear much earlier than normal. Hope you stop by the holiday party anytime this weekend … and your friends here are more than welcome. After all, there are gifts for those who dare.

    • I can only take a bow, in the face of such hyperbole, Cindy. I hope you are enjoying your humongous tree, and all those virtual, calorie laden confections, as much as I enjoy hearing about and seeing them…..

    • That is so nice to hear, Pauline, especially since you are my major teacher of the differences in the hemispheres. I continue to tune-in to what’s actually happening here, but now I can see the reality of opposites, the yin-yang of it all, and not just as an abstraction but as vicarious experience through friends….

  3. Love it, Cynthia, but don’t love “It.” Entirely too much dark around lately. Favorite lines: “fumbling about 4 o’clock
    for keys, a shifty guest who

    cannot stay to tea as
    has somewhere else to go
    into the creeping grey.” and “it
    has been adding minutes
    to the mouth of night.” So good to see yet another wonderful poem by you.

    • Thank you, Judy. Compliments from one who has such a wonderful command of verse as you do, are especially appreciated. And I do envy all the vibrant color of your world, there in Mexico…seeing your photos of flowers, and holiday decorations especially, I think they certainly must be a help against the season of darkness….

      • I was just telling a friend today that I am addicted to color since I’ve been in Mexico. Every year, my house gets brighter! Maybe it is that my eyes are dimming so it takes brighter colors for me to notice!!!

        • Oh, but I love bright, vivid color, and always have…..especially the beautiful cobalt blues and deep yellows with orange and purple and green! No beiges and grey for me….though I have been called “gypsy” and “bohemian”, even “gaudy,: for my taste! Even with my watercolors, my palette is very saturated. And it all does seem to increase with age… as well-meaning persons gift me with those demure pastels graced with tiny flowers that little old ladies are supposed to adopt….I reject them every time!

            • I haven’t posted any of my artwork, as I’ve pretty much concentrated on poetry since I retired—reading it, studying it, writing it. Time and energy being at a premium for me just now, it’s been a while since I painted, though I keep my oar in with drawing as a meditative practice, à la Frederick Franck. But who knows, I may “get my act together” and create a blog dedicated to visual art, one of these fine days. Thanks for asking, Judy.

  4. It is a marvelous piece of work. The shifty guest image had me smiling. We festoon our house with candles and lights of all kinds at this time of year so the bottomless pit is well lit until the light returns. Thank goodness for snow which brings a kind of illumination to the black.

    • All those Christmas lights surely had their origin in people’s wanting to say “in your face” to the darkness. We’ve had some spits of flurries, but no snow on the ground…fog, intermittent rain, a totally grey and brown world and days of more darkness than light. I haven’t the ability anymore to do all that decorating and my cats and dog don’t seem to mind one way or the other so we are long hours in the dark…but you may be right about the snow…It turns all the black to white. Maybe snowlessness is getting to me this year…I can’t complain about too much snow!

  5. So well described. I can certainly relate, especially when I’m trying to beat the 4pm mark and not run around in the dark. 🙂

  6. I’ve reached “IT” Cynthia – how fantastic to read the passing of this longest day. I’m now looking forward to the light coming our way. Amazing and brilliant work my friend as always.

  7. Lovely evocative poem Cynthia. There are some great lines nestled in there. Overall it made me think of Persephone, for sure she counted the hours and celebrated ‘it’ when it arrived. Living as I do in Texas the winter solstice is an enjoyable progression for it heralds cooler weather and the dark doesn’t intrude on our fun, rather it gives a backdrop to some amazing man-made light shows.

    • Hi Jane….I think it will be quite a while before Persephone appears; she’s deep in the deepest part of Hades at the moment. But it sounds like you are relishing the season and that’s a good thing. Enjoy the light shows!

    • Hi Amy—Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I know…I know…about those like buttons. They were not available on this theme, way back when I started my blog, and when it comes to the idea of switching themes, I am petrified! My technical suaveté is practically nil…sort of the old fashioned “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of managing. Best wishes for the holiday, and blessings in the new year!

  8. Nicely captures the feeling of gloom in the northern hemisphere at the fewer and fewer hours of sunlight. Thankfully, the sun is on its way up again till it reached a point where we (in the hot countries) start wishing it was December once more. Circular motions of life…

  9. Not sure how I missed this! Though I’m glad now that I read IT after the year had turned, so the sinister tone could not haunt me too much. Funny how we delude ourselves about our control of our surroundings, and yet the world turns, darkens and lightens at its own sweet pace without the least reference to us.

    • It’s fun to think how one would choose to run the weather and the seasons if one could….but of course if humans could do that, think of the disagreements! The fact that the world darkens and lightens at its own pace, as you say—its intractability to our wills—-is actually what we all have in common with each other….and may be the reason why talking about the weather is not just shallow conversation after all!

  10. Beautiful, if not a little sinister.

    I love this image:

    “adding minutes
    to the mouth of night”

    The stanza about the first watchers brings to mind Annie Dillard’s writing on a full eclipse – how afraid people would have been in ancient times.

    • We do take for granted so many meteorological things which must at one time been fearful and shocking to those who were experiencing them for the first time. I know so many people who take the weather “personally”….i.e. they get angry with “it” or happy with “it” as if what “it” is doing is a punishment or a reward meted out upon themselves! Thanks, as always, for reading and for your insight, Karen.

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