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
I hope everyone has an intriguing and mysterious solstice.
2018: Hope, Courage, Mercy
2020: The Space Between