Toward the Winter Solstice
By Timothy Steele
Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.
Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.
And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.
Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.
Greetings on the longest night of the year -- since the solstice takes place early Friday morning, Friday night will be a bit shorter even if the day is the shortest of the season. That is, of course, assuming there is a Friday night -- I must admit that the number of memes, jokes, and conspiracy theories about the Mayan calendar is a bit disconcerting -- if there's an end of the world in my lifetime, I fully expect that currently living humans will cause it, not Nostradamus or Gangnam Style.
Daniel slept till well after noon, apparently catching up from finals week. I made him get up when I went out to walk, which I did early because my kids had an afternoon dentist appointment. The soon-to-close mall in which the dentist's office is located was nearly empty -- I got in and out of Claire's (where son bought a rainbow scarf and I bought a Paris charm bracelet) in minutes with no lines -- except for the wait for the kids' train that drives around the mall and the wait to see Santa.
I had a Deep Space Nine two-parter to watch for review, and afterward Daniel said we could put on the Voyager Borg episodes. It's very strange watching "Scorpion" now, when I have no particular devotion to any of the characters: I was totally in Camp Janeway when I first saw it, and this time she sounds like Captain Nemo to me. Also, when I watch Jeri Ryan without bitterly resenting her because they hired her for her boobs, she's really very good. For the long night, a Great Falls sunset: