Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice Poem 2016

Midway through life's journey, I found myself
In a dark wood, the straight road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard--so tangled and rough
And savage -- that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.
And yet, to treat the good I found there as well…


I've been thinking all week about why the darkest time of the year is usually the most creative for me. And I got to thinking about a Solstice, four years ago, 2012, when I was living in the Woodstock, New York area. I had been sad, grief-stricken, for months. This was during a time of immense psychic upheaval and every morning, every evening, the circumstances of my life ground my face in the same question: What have you done with your life? The answer terrified me.

The night of the solstice, I borrowed a car and went driving in the mountains. And got lost. The silhouettes of the mountains all around me, glimpsed through the dark weave of bare branches roadside, felt ominous, full of mockery. I could hear a mocking voice inside me: "Where are you? Where are you?" The question wasn't about geography. 

I finally stopped the car, got out, and stood in the middle of the road, looked up at the thin ribbon of stars between the thick canopy of bare trees lining both sides of the road. And, for a second, I felt the space - that immense space - across the stars; felt the space between my own body and the bodies of the trees nearby; and felt the space inside my own body.

I got back in the car and, eventually, found my way back to the flea-infested apartment where I lived. The same desperate question - what have you done with your life? - was still there…but I was also strangely calm.

I composed this quick poem in my head on the drive back, wrote it down when I got home, then promptly forgot it until I opened a file marked "Miscellaneous" about a month ago. It has no title.

for over an hour
on these mountain roads

(Where are the signs?
There should be more signs.)

An oak leaf skips across macadam. Sudden
tumbling for a second in the headlights, blown

dark to dark. Pleiades above,
                                                   Jupiter so bright
        the light rings out


Small things.

Have a Strangely Beautiful
and Beautifully Strange

Other winter solstice poems (the ghosts of winter solstice past) can be found below:


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