Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice Chant - Annie Finch

Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
now you are uncurled and cover our eyes
with the edge of winter sky
leaning over us in icy stars.
Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
come with your seasons, your fullness, your end.

The winter solstice is a special day, and the day of the year with the shortest light. In my area, that's only around 9 hours of daylight today. And in a year such as this 2020 has been, it's hard to not feel depressed with the leaving of the light. Indeed, the description Finch gives us, of darkness like a flowering plant, uncurling and covering our eyes, is potent and vivid. I can feel the tendrils of night, like a plant, creeping over us, choking out the light. As I type this, it's 4:15p.m., and soon, within minutes, the sun will set on this shortest day of the year. I would be lying if I said that I don't deeply feel the lack of light, this year, especially.

And yet, there is not an absence of beauty in the darkness, as Finch reminds us. Our eyes are covered, but they are covered with the "edge of winter sky" which leans over us in "icy stars." It's a beautiful image, and truly, the winter sky can be magical. I personally am a big fan of a rich, almost purple, velvety winter sky, with the moon reflected on cold snow. That doesn't make the short days easier, however. That's why I find the last two lines of Finch's poem so wonderful. Yes, the winter sky covering us can be beautiful, but more importantly, it will end.

"Come with your seasons, your fullness, your end." The winter solstice, shortest day of the year that it is, signifies to us that each day from henceforth will be that little bit longer. We entreat the solstice to come because that means that every coming day will have just that bit more light for us. Seasons, fullness, these are not bleak words. And the format of the poem, as suggested by the title, is chant-like. I know I often urge you readers to read these poems out loud, and this is no different. There's something almost sacred feeling about the rhythm of the poem. Maybe the solstice itself, and reading about it, have put me in a magical headspace, but there's something especially satisfying about the rhythm of this poem.

While I have not shared much poetry this year, I feel fortunate to be in good health, and able to still share some with you all. It has been a difficult year for so many, and truly, I have been fortunate throughout it all. It's my sincere hope that if the solstice and the long darkness of night are difficult for you that this poem act as a panacea for those woes. When you read it out loud, imagine that you are joined by every other reader, separate in body, but together in spirit, chanting this poem of change and hope into the night. As Finch so elegantly put it, "Come with your seasons, your fullness, your end." I hope to post a few more times before the coming of the new year, but if I cannot, thank you, readers. I hope I've been able to bring just the tiniest bit of light to you on this darkest of days.