The winter solstice is soon upon us — the dark of the year — and for many, the dark of a difficult year. And yet, the biggest celebrations come with the end of the year, too. It makes a useful paradox on which to hang the last installment of “Light Year,” my series looking at the unique qualities of light in each month of year.
Safe holiday travels to all, if you are heading out on the road. And enjoy the light of family and friends, if the sun provides you a little too little.
What little light December spares is dimmed by frosted windows.
Both ends of night overlap the edges of the workday. At home
the windows are blackened morning and evening all week,
and all that daybreak has to show is snow blown sideways.
Where autumn burned the leaves, now we burn the trees.
Anything for a little more light. Under a paltry imitation of sun
I rig for silent running aboard the submarine of winter. Until
weather breaks, until the wind dies, it won’t be safe to surface.
I’d pay twenty more degrees of cold for a fair sky — a full moon
convoyed west by wisps of cloud, bold Orion riding above cedars,
moonshadows cast across the snow. But no. So little light;
so much night. Fat flakes thickly fall far as feeble porch light shows.
And so we conjure what we can — candlelight, Christmas lights,
angels glowing in the yard. We build up the fire and sing aloud,
throw feasts, give gifts, raise a clamor of bells. We huddle
with family, friends, to squeeze the very last light from the year.