Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The Woods at Yuletide

It is indeed the darkest evening of the year,
the sun’s brief arc hiding behind clouds, a thicket, and snow.
I exhale archangels and seraphim into the gray air,
my boots planted deep in white winter frost.

There is stillness in all directions, the coming silent night
already bearing down with noiseless labor pain
that calculates what is gained and what is lost,
astrology having served its final purpose for the kings.

The wagon ruts of a poet who paused to think of miles
runs to the veiled village east of here and the woods,
an incarnation of the should that in the snowfall sings.
There will be the usual death despite the sap beneath

already contemplating its impossible rise.
A sudden keen wind causes my mind to sift memories
of what has transpired since I was a sapling dreaming of years,
of a long road that has led me to this evening prime.

In the village, a single bell tolls Christmas time,
Such is love.
Such is the meaning of a gift, many decades old,
that is again unwrapped by the fire when the day is cold.

It is time to move on from this cathedral of dusk,
for a new dusting has filled the sky with the heavenly host.
The evening has been my scripture, chapter and verse.
At home I will light a candle in this dark but expanding universe.

~William Hammett

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