a sonnet for the Winter Solstice

“IF WE DON’T TURN THE WHEEL, IT WILL NOT TURN”

Our ancestors in their simplicity,

we hear, believed the spent midwinter sun

would die at last and never rise again

without their rites—so every turning of

the seasons had its keeping and its forms,

and failure in them meant the end of all.

“Now we know better”—or do we know less?

In the pattern’s loss, what have we gained?

The days we set aside to mourn the sun

or drive the cattle through the fires or bless

the fields joined our spirits, bodies, minds

to the moving heart of all. We did not turn

the earth upon its axis—what we turned,

and still might turn, was purely our own souls.

(from Candle, Thread, and Flute)