Alban Arthan

Checking my watch--not yet five o'clock
Long shadows stretch behind us.
Sun sinks sowthwest, sky turning red,
Naked trees silhoetted on horizon.
Dying sunlight gives way to twilight,
Twilight to this longest night.
Pinpricks of stars spread across the canopy,
Bright for this longest show.
Two polar bears circle in the north
The hunter, his dogs, race the sky.

The sun sleeps long; we wait by the fire
Warming ourselves against midwinter's night
Passing 'round hot drinks, singing in silence
Huddling together, waiting for light.
Old songs ring through holly-decked halls
Blinking lights on the Yule true mimic the sky
Children rattle packeges, left by the jolly old elf
Night passes over, turning with the sky.

Late dawn silently creeps eastward
Slowly, the sun rises far south.
We stand outside, watching.
Our breath makes steam--
Orange in the light of
The Newborn Sun.
Raising a glass, one-by-one,
Wassail, good health
Gods bless us, everyone.

Most run back inside,
Dreading frost
But I look on the land relit.
Pine, holly, yew
Make small splashes of green
Against brown landscapes, white snow.

Between naked branches,
Stag antlers mix.
Searching for food on fallow land.
Searching for life under the New Sun.

Mary Jones 2004