On the Winter Solstice

Ann Thornfield-Long

On the Winter Solstice

At the last bit of light
I kneel on the cold ground
made deep cuts with a claw
in the peeling of earth,
mix in a mulch of leaves,
crushed from my restless feet
pacing a path of impatience.
I am not decent
in winter. My hair turns silver,
my skin grays. It is this dark deed
I need.

Into the bloodless cuts I feed
the tiny bulbs. Already they reach
with their pale green, snake-like
stems. I cover them with loose soil.
My hands blue with the frigid work.
I tuck them into little graves
from which they will resurrect
soon. Their pure white heads
and brilliant leaves. Snowdrops.
When I see them, I will know
winter has come to an end.

From the early blooms
to the peepers that seek
a mate the minute the snow
melts. I understand the need
not to waste time. To revel
in love with the heart
of rebellion. To stay up
through the first warm night
flesh celebrating flesh
the magnetic pull
of the universe.


Ann Thornfield-Long has published poems and stories in Artemis Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Riddled with Arrows, and other journals. She loves game nights with family and friends.

Backstory: Winter Solstice is a holy day for me, that magic moment when light stops darkness, and begins the journey to long days. If it is not too cold or the ground too frozen, I like to plant in the night, go out into the yard and dig the hard soil with a metal hand claw and plant bulbs. Getting deep in the earth is difficult. I’m on my knees, nose running, trying to get deep enough that the bulbs (kept in the refrigerator) will survive.

This year I planted Snowdrops, usually the first flower to bloom here in East Tennessee.  They are tiny bulbs and despite their refrigerated state, they yearn to grow. Already their stems show.  I put them in the ground, cover them with potting soil, tuck them in, and add anything that will keep squirrels out, net or mesh.

The idea of joining in the fecundity of springtime excites me. In the dead of winter, the little snowdrops will make roots, as we do. I have, remarkably, seen seven generations of my family. We have sunk roots deep into farmland and into Appalachia. What we birth, will bloom for those who will come after us.

I will watch for the snowdrops, listen for the peepers and sleep with the windows open by the time the Vernal Equinox arrives.

Image Credit: Snowdrops [wallpaper.dog]

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