Winter Solstice

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Winter Solstice

December 21. Shortest day. All walled in.

I watch the windows and the drab leaking sky.

Waiting for the last light of the waning year.

Somnolent, deep, all-day dark.

Racing clouds and bedroom weather.

A dark and hope-less time.

Finally the dog and I brave the cold

And hopscotch the spaces

Between ochre farm track puddles.

Nut-brown and spattered, she half-heartedly retrieves

Fallen beech branches I half-heartedly fling.

Noses leaf-mould, chews blackened conkers,

Stands solitary, sensing scents,

Then rushes through the shivering blonde stubble.

Following fox. Chasing hope.

We make one last loop as the half-light fades.

Disappointed we turn, but then the last touches of winter-rose

Leak out of skirting clouds to brush the drab sheepfold walls

And warm the way back to the car. And then the line

Of the horizon bleeds like a glorious,

Over-painted eighteenth-century canvas,

The old light-year is over, and a new one begun.

And now there is a spring in our step,

All the way home

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