December 22, 2021

Careful Winter Steps

A solstice greeting + a far-off longing + a spell for the safe and the sane

Today is Wednesday, December 22 and I find myself wondering whether the cold is what I will remember best of this year: the subtle insulation of a thorough snow covering, the sound of instruments dropping with their temperature, the drunken feeling of frozen fingers.

In the early afternoon I go to the store for mushrooms, an optimistic attempt at Palouse Family Foods, and prevail - the house now smelling of sweet carrots and rich barley, the old window fogging with the earthy aroma.

I wear Mary’s goulashes but keep my arms bare to the whole, heady mixture of snow melt and sunshine. I see Katie Cooper and Jessie Twigg-Harris and the woman named Lizzie with the military husband.

I choose my words like I do my careful winter steps. Worry lying low like icy fog, a fear of slipping... of trading fever. But in their hollow imprints, a fresh white kindness collects: a velvety Cuetlaxochitl from the Sievers, a pile of photographs from my friends at Swale, welcome-back lips from my apron-clad girl.

It seems strange, to send news of another nothing year: another 365 day span of too much and not nearly enough. Can I quote to you Anne Carson? Or June and Taylor singing Kimya Dawson? Can I send you my regrets? Or take you by the hand like the Ghost of Christmas Present and fly you through the rooms I’ve been too solitary to enter?

At least then I could surround you all with the knotted bread and garlic you deserve. I could say “Come in, and know me better man” and mean it at my core.

It’s a strange and new sensation, to miss even the people around you. To sense a coldness trimming the record breaking summer and to find yourself wishing only for the briefest of moments.

Recently, I changed the due date stamp at the library to 2022. Pressing it hard against its ink pad, I watched it record itself and go home with someone else: a new year in their pocket like a lucky penny.

So here is my well-inked well-wish.