The Shortest Day

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the shortest day, winter solstice, will arrive around 2am this Sunday, the final Sunday of Advent. Moreover, the moon is in its balsamic, or darkest phase. On Christmas Day (or the early hours of the 26th where I live that we call Stephen’s Day) the moon will be reborn. In fact, there will be a lunar eclipse. So we arrive this midwinter with a dark night sky and a daytime light that is scanty, especially if there is any cloud. The Sunday Weekly poem takes some of its tune from our natural world this winter solstice.

While there is lots of merriment abounding at this time of year, there is also a sense of melancholy. I think of holiday films like The Holly and the Ivy or,one of my all-time favourites, It’s a Wonderful Life. (It wasn’t an immediate box office hit. Hollywood thought it was a bit of a bummer for a holiday film. But it’s tale of suicide prevented turned out to be a slow-burn classic. ) Families come together and it can be stressful as unhealed issues resurface. The dark days of this season can trigger depression in some people. So some of the seasonal cheerfulness can feel both a bit forced and enforced as well. For those who have loved ones who have passed away at this time of year, that anniversary cannot but help colour the collective festivities. I had a college friend whose father had fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, which was marked by an especially bloody Christmas Day; he could never be cheery on that anniversary.

 

The Shortest Day

There are absences. There are the closed doors

that make surreal all this talk of salvation lore.

But, resolute, we face the openings in store,

even if we cannot quite be merry or

sing a halleluiah chorale. Our more frivolous

wishes might have resurrected that once

 

innocent wonder in lights and sparkling colour,

the delights in delicious smells – eggnog’s liqueur,

the shiver of nutmeg on the lip of its stirrup cup,

evergreen’s resin, ginger, cinnamon. Sip its over-sweet up

as the electric fairy light strandis slipped over

and wound around the live tree’s indoor bower.

 

It’s a day dawning late after a no moon night.

It’s a day that rapidly resigns its pale light.

May it be a portal to our safer future, bright

and warm as the Yule log’s blaze. We dig down deep

into the Santa stocking’s far toe, the gift it keeps –

chocolate as dark as midwinter’s day and just as semi-sweet.

 

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights

Featured image Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

In Midwinter Tide

At Midwinter Tide

Christmas time can be very jolly. We meet, greet, salute and congregate. But not everyone. We consider the homeless, but there is also a legion of the lonely who are feeling excluded from all this collective jollity. This is a time of year when outsiders can really feel left out in the cold. Just like that wistful feral cat back in 2016, who finally came in from the cold last Christmas and became a fully fledged insider  and household member this year. Today’s Poetry Daily considers those who may not be feeling it this Christmas tide.

The cat who came in from the cold
Looking inside from the outside at Xmas
At Midwinter Tide

To those who have loved
and lost
whether by
omission or commission
and for whom
loneliness has become
like a prison
a life sentence
in solitary confinement

To those who have loved
and lost
those dear ones
those who once
lifted your heart
raised your pulse
bathed you in the warmth
of their company

At midwinter tide
all that loving and giving
outside
is forced labour
a convict's pick axe
breaking stone to no purpose
but to underline
how much it feels
alone
inside

At midwinter tide
there is the sun
its piercing ray
into a stone made box
and out from the dark
dawn breaks
and wholly illuminates
to ancestral sighes
for the year's tide
has turned

We are all born
with such breathless hope
followed by our cry

The sun does this turn
year upon year
all alone
except for  those of us
who witness it
along with our thoughts
of those loved and lost
in yesteryear
all of of us
this company
of beloved ones

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith


Featured image is of Newgrange illuminated at Winter Solstice found on Pinterest  and linked to https://binged.it/2rJ4TBW