Solstice in the Pandemic, Two Years In

Solstice in the Pandemic, Two Years In
Gritty black ash. This year closes
in exhaustion. We try to breathe
behind masks, watching Omicron’s line
climb precipitously, seemingly
out of control. Governments fail our
scientists and healthcare heroes,
who would desperately prefer
to stop being heroes, catch their
breaths, rest a little. So many
failures have led to this all being
so much worse than it needed to be,
and it is easy to despair.
But the year does turn. We light candles
against the dark, we gather when
we can no longer bear to be separate.
We are not so different from our ancestors
who devised these solstice rituals.
Around the world, we cry out for light.
The sun will return, the days will lengthen,
pandemics do end. Even this darkness,

have faith — it will not last forever.


December 21, 2021

Image: Detail from a mixed media painting by Christa Grenawalt, “Finding the Gold”, which incorporates ash and soil from the 2020 Glass Fire in her Sonoma County childhood home. With thanks to Jennifer Moran, whose patient explanations of science in lay language have brought me understanding and comfort in a hard time.