Solstice Meditation

A poem by Marianne Worcester

This is the season of impossibles:
impossible lineups, traffic, impossible deadlines,
 impossible expectations I place on myself;
impossible dreams of a consumer paradise
available to so impossibly few;
the season tugs at me, swings me 
from pole to pole, revealing all my
unresolved places: perfectionism, flowing down
the motherline; seasonal lethargy, 
synapses calling out against the dying of the light;
bleak December, in the kitchen with persimmons 
and an impossible recipe; and then -
the thought comes that I am still just a child 
at large in the universe; I get in my car 
and drive to Jericho, hurrying to catch the last
 of the autumnal light over English Bay; all is calm 
here along the edge, the familiar sussuration
of the incoming tide, the homely twitter of widgeons 
bobbing in the kelp; in the gathering gloom, I walk as one 
without hurry, without hope, a tired woman wanting to remember
her place in the scheme of things, here where life is plain, 
where the swamp has gone humbly to winter, where time is tender;
a Heron lifts off the pond on wings of swaddling linen, 
a Hooded Merganser pair separate from the wall of broken reeds 
and pass soundlessly as I stand among the blackened bramble, the red osier dogwood, the sedges, black cottonwoods, spruce and hemlock, 
and listen as earth’s lungs empty and fill: it comes to me 
that this is the stable, that we’re all huddled, shivering in wonder
around a manger, our vulnerable bodies pressed together,
munching, pairing, pushing and shoving, mostly unaware
of how in this narrowest of places are the greatest gifts: 
Earth, Air, Light, Water - all around, unopened, underfoot, 
unrecognized; I turn, and the city stands caught in the sun’s final rays,
glowing like a holy thing, at the end of a year, an age,
 at the edge of the continent; an impossible place, 
concealing and cradling gifts we hadn’t asked for, 
that we don’t know we need; in an instant
a divine parabola contains the vast distances, and it all comes 
together – sea, swamp, sky, city – as the first star
declares night; the imagination moves out 
to those first sheep-less fields where an explosion 
of unimaginable love set everything in motion,
birthing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen,
wave after wave of galactic gift-giving:
fluorine, astatine, bromine, cesium, silver, silicon,
 phosphorus, our universe, our galaxy, being born; 
now here we are, in this place, and in this time,
children shimmering with celestial stuff, 
impossible gifts, opening.


  1. Marianne, what a treasure you’ve offered us readers. Thank you for your calming and grounding words which still the soul.

  2. That was lovely and lengthy to read. a good read, one feels one has been on a journey. Thank you for these reflections at Christmas time!

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