Toward the Winter Solstice
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.
-- Timothy Steele