Back on Earth: Winter Solstice

The shortest day folds in on itself,
an origami of fog and freeze
erasing all color except the red
shirt on the clothesline, bird
in the cedars barely moving
in the cold the dirt swallows.

Waxwings crescent over the roof,
showing us all is not angles
or the momentary constructs
we make out of time. Light
exhales, pauses as the air thaws,
inhales more length toward spring,
a hard-to-believe notion on this
dark side of the wall.

Back on earth, I dream of canals
bordered by cherry blossoms,
one branch dipping in the weight
of a black squirrel with its flourish
of tail. A car engine turns over,
turtles underground breathe
in the slightest glimmer
all the dark long. So much
we cannot understand in this
time of so much terror, war,
hunger beyond the reach
of curves, blossom, flight.

But the heart can’t help itself:
it wants to find the pocket
of just enough air to lift again.

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About the Author

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of 24 books, including How Time Moves: New & Selected Poems; Miriam's Well, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community, and Coming Home to the Body. Founder of Transformative Language Arts, she leads writing workshops widely, coaches people on writing and right livelihood, and consults on creativity.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
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