The Nadir of Light
As we move toward the depth of winter, the light fades,
Weakens, moves sideways.
Rising late, thin, attenuated like a ghost,
A wraith that moves silently in mists and cloudy twilight,
The light shivers in the clear chill of icicle mornings,
And wraps itself in fleecy pastel afternoons darkening
Darkness falls, a black drapery muffling the change of scene,
And light appears again.
Within the wilderness a fire burns, a meal is prepared.
A window glows golden and welcoming to the traveler in the night.
Above the dark earth, the jewels of the sky gleam as diamond-bright
Sequins cast upon a velvet ground.
Death stops by for chats these days;
A familiar presence come to spend a bit of time with me
While I muse and sip my tea. We are old friends by now.
Death never says much; doesn’t have to —
The wheeze in my chest says it all,
Says I am vulnerable, says I am old,
Says my friend and I are growing closer by the day.
And the days are short, and cold in winter,
And sleep seems sweet and warm, deep, enfolding
Like soft arms, or great, dark wings ….
Death is a flirt, catching my eye suggestively
Only to look away again.
It is a game we play; we both know
Which of us succumbs.
This is an ancient wooing dance we do,
A courtship ritual played out at last
In a life lived long enough to understand the partner
And the steps.
The year glides into its turn. One hemisphere enjoying
Sun and summer warmth, the other bearing a cold face,
In winter‘s grip,
The earth orb pirouettes through space
In company with the corps, the coterie of the nearest star.
And each star in its own great cycle spins,
And moves in its great pilgrimage to ending and beginning
Never-ending. The aeons in a choreography process.
The long nights draw cold, sharp as a knife, across the lives
Of the sacrificed. All that has passed is holy, and all that is to come,
And this moment, most of all;
Now is holy. The turning point
Hidden in the moment – in every moment – the potential
Is here, present, perfect
The dark stain of blood upon the snow
Marks where a creature passed into the maw of history,
And another found sustenance.
Life feeds upon itself, in constant revolution of
Darkness and light.
The scythe has passed, the husks lie empty on the cold ground;
Freed of the flesh, the warm blood no longer coursing
With the pulsing of the chambered heart,
The essence flees from light to dark;
Womb-dark, earth-dark with the richness of loam
And there, the germ of life takes fire from heaven
Within; Growth begins.
At the turn of the year, as winter claims the sacrifice
The antipodal summer reaches apex, and the light
Begins its redirection.
The apex of humanity, the conscious eye, surveys itself,
What dies and what remains and grows, and feeds upon
That which has gone before, and changes,
Another year, and old bones growing colder,
Brittle, like the dry sticks feeding the fire.
Ah — grind the cinnamon into the mug, just so —
And breathe the scent of sacrifice;
The tree’s life gives spice to warm the blood.
Soon enough my essence will be freed to dance
In the space between the stars, where neither cold nor heat
Are sensed, and all is the light-filled darkness.
But for this day, in time, as the year moves to its turning,
I hold the warm liquid still in its cup, and inspiration
Brings me content,
Absorbing substance of a subtle sort.
Here, at the portal is a glimpse of immortality:
Life and Death as one moving essentiality, the spirit
Traveling, timeless and eternal, in infinity.