Winter Solstice: The Wheel Turns Again

Nettie’s Lament

I love the hunkering towards dark that lengthens night

draws down winter with amber light, etching

wet black bark in convoluted arabesques

against the pale apricot of autumn dusks.


Oh, stave off returning for just another day or week.

Must we begin to ride, so soon, the bright returning year?


Sleep drowns me, sea-changes old lovers, sets new fancies

tumbling in slow motion, anchors me in cryptic dreams.

Let me slumber, deep in fur, another hour

amidst the sweet caress of winter’s den.

I would not quicken yet.


Pelt, feathers, fleece and flannel muffle any draft

sleep draws me down ten fathoms, sea-changes old lovers,

sets new fancies tumbling in slow motion, twines tawny kelp

and feathered weed round languid limbs then sprawls me

flat upon its farthest shore.


But who can stop the sun

hurling his bright shaft on solstice day?


Shot across horizon’s edge it hugs the frozen ground

skims snow fields, slides down ice-glazed trunks

of rowan, beech and pale birch, darts

unerringly toward my buried keep.


What crow or magpie, mouse or squirrel dug sharp claws

against the ground?  Pecked and pawed that small depression?

Stuffed acorn in to fill the hole tight, till hunger forced

its reclamation, leaving space for water and the fickle air

to gnaw an entrance there?


Light finds that empty niche, the single hollow chink.

Its beam strikes true – hits my startled eye, twists down

my spine to lodge in that most secret holy room

where life insists on schedules preordained

and I must stir, and wake to play its game.


Christine Irving 2005

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