Monday, December 20, 2021

Snow Clouds, Space, Silence and Snow-Ghosts: Solstice Poem


It's almost winter solstice, so it's time for the annual Winter Solstice poem.

This one comes from a memory of standing on a trail beside the gorge in Taos, watching snowclouds come in from the west for about an hour, and remaining still as the snowflakes drifted around. 

Something inside me opened up when the snow began to fall. I felt as spacious as the flats surrounding me, stretching in all directions, towards distant mountains, buttes. 

 That hour or two has become part of my cell structure, standing among those rocks, sparse brush, enveloped by and enveloping that silence...



I have recently been thinking about those who witness the death of the last of any species - what is contained in that moment? And so, in the poem, I imagined someone who witnesses a final snowfall - the last snowflake in the high desert - what is transmitted, what will continue and how? 

Snow Clouds, Space, Silence, and Snow-Ghosts


The western buttes spun snow clouds out of their last

skeletal memories, dark grey, and sent them east.


After an hour, flakes landed on pitted black volcanic

rock and quickly dissolved, as if they’d never been.


Who will remember them? Who will tell their story

from birth to death and resurrection? Unable to move,


our eyes and fingers became crystal, grey patterns of

ice and space. Flakes drifted out over the gorge, and


we watched as some caught a rising current, ascended

back to their origin, the way some of us do at birth,


opening our eyes into this new world, so stunned by

the light and noise, we rush back into the darkness, to


tell the shadows that had been our family for thousands

of years what we’ve seen and heard. I keep looking for


that snow, that space between flakes, that thought-

dissolving silence – under rocks, between furrows of


bark, in mist, tufts of dry grass, in the mirror. You keep

looking for it, too. We look for it together in our own


way, grey-eyed children of snow, of the ghosts of snow,

slowly becoming snow-ghosts ourselves, shadows that


appear at the corner of the eye. I can see the last person

to witness sparse snow fall into the gorge, suddenly


blessed and cursed with knowing – for a few seconds –

snow’s story, its history of water, dust, condensation,


of ice, dissolution and silence; blessed and cursed with

knowing how deeply snow’s memory is entangled with


ours. Will they be reduced to eating cinders, ash, from

grief? And will they then carry that story in the way


they touch another’s face? So light, so light, leaving 

behind only what is needed in that moment, barely 


a trace…



I hope everyone has an intriguing and mysterious solstice.

Winter Solstice Poem blogs in the past decade:

2016: Midway Through Life's Journey: Winter Solstice Poem

2018: Hope, Courage, Mercy 

2019: Labyrinths

2020: The Space Between