Winter Solstice

by Tess Jolly

I will not write about Christmas lights garlanding the tree,
how steadily red blends to sapphire  emerald  gold,
how strong the little bulbs must be to throw their dancing hearts
upon the café wall, how children try to catch them.
I will not say there is tinsel draped about the branches
like seaweed over pebbles, nor paint the cloths swaddling our skins
apricot, indigo, violet, teal. I will not speak of glazed
pastries on the counter, how they shine so much
they could be varnished, there for the hell-of-it, for the sheer
beauty of their glistening berries. I’ll turn away from buses heaving
down the rush-hour road, ignore how in all this rain
the headlamps could be tumbling garnets, polished amber,
as if a picture-book box of pirate treasure had spilt its pearls
and precious stones across a tarmacked page.

I will not describe how the sun becomes the sea, I will not delight
in words to name its colours – cerise, crimson, indigo,
scarlet, madder, rose. I will not try to find a way
to show your smile across the table, how it slips like warm charcoal
into the fabric of my heart. I will not suggest I light a candle
as the year prepares to wane, that you hold a second wick to mine
then another and another, that together we whisper a prayer
for each growing flame. I will not talk about the light
that is everywhere, how far you have to travel for the sky
to be completely black (and even then there are stars, there is the moon’s
borrowed brightness). I will not question why fire burns more fiercely  
before sputtering out, or how – when we know we’re dying –
we can be so fully alive. I will not say these things because this
is a poem about darkness. I am writing about the darkness.