After a storm, the drapes of rain are drawn,
but a low ceiling of clouds still obscures
the fullness of the December moon,
making darker the longest night of the year,
with Mercury and Jupiter conjoined,
as stars fall behind the heavy barrier,
and Earth’s upper half leans backward until
it reaches the maximum tilt of winter solstice,
inviting winter in, but also promising
the turn of the wheel toward another spring.
A cold midwinter moon, a long night moon,
at the solstice ritually fired and feasted;
the decorative evergreen branches, cut, must die,
except as symbols, but the trees live on.
Next day, the sun rises late, but rises still,
and blazes bright until its early setting.
T. Allen Culpepper