On November 22, I committed to a friend that I’d write 30 new poems by the end of the year. It will be a tight squeeze, but I’ll make it, though there was never a doubt that one of them would be a solstice poem, given the timing. Since it’s heavily burdened by images from this particular winter solstice, I probably won’t submit it anywhere, so I’m sharing it here at the blog, which was feeling quite neglected. Win-win, if you ask me.
A Blessing for Potatoes on the Winter Solstice During a Pandemic
I’d wanted the solstice to mark the end of the pandemic,
but it seems we’re still in it. Deep in it. The fulcrum
that tips things in the right direction isn’t where you’d think.
Even the solstice is a trick, using its promise of light
as a Trojan horse to sneak in winter. My own belly is full
of potatoes. In quarantine, I’ve been perfecting
home fries and counting blessings:
Bless the skillet and its good sizzle.
Bless the butter and the russet.
Bless its wobble and its imperfect axis.
At least the Earth’s is more stable. Cue the ominous
growl of the furnace, which runs day and night
in these temperatures.
Bless its grumbling. Yes, even that
noisy machine isn’t exempt from my gratitude
which, I can admit, lacks exuberance. Not the elderly.
They hoot and cheer, says CNN, when a nursing home director
opens a box of the new vaccine. It’s not my turn, so I
bless the centerpiece on my table: a basket
with masks and hand sanitizer, a thermometer
and a pulse oximeter. It remains strange
to welcome a new year into the house
no matter what the last one put us through.
Bless those who forgive.
The sun, low as it will go for many months,
rolls across the sky like a marble, its pale yellow center
frozen but still visible in the glass. Before it drops
into its next match somewhere below our horizon,
it’s strong enough to melt the ice on the porch.
Bless the lever that tilts the table toward us this time.
Bless the hand that reaches for it.
12/22 update: The day after writing this poem, I wrote a winter solstice poem about the conjunction of Saturn and Venus, if you’d like to read!