Poems for the Winter 2012 issue:


A Song For Solstice

Rachel Katz
It was freezing cold. Snow piled high. Night approached. My twelve-year-old self
stood outside the school with the other choristers, gripping noisemakers and lanterns.
Parents, teachers and others joined the throng. We waited. Waited for total darkness.
Waited for the walk to begin. Waited for solstice.
When darkness finally fell, I felt as though I had been standing in the snowy cold
for an eternity. I could scarcely feel my feet and I wondered if this had been a mistake.
Little did I know that all my doubts were about to evaporate.
With long black hair swinging behind her, my music teacher pushed her way
out of the crowd. In her high, clear voice, she explained the solstice and why it was
celebrated. She called for the choir to join her at the head of the motley procession.
We would lead the way down the creaky wooden stairs into the shadowy ravine. After
negotiating the icy steps, we congregated at the foot of the stairs. There, our route was
explained before we set off.
As soon as the walk began, noisemakers were let loose in a zealous outburst.
Minutes passed, the cacophony died out, and the choir began to sing as one.
This was my first solstice celebration and what I heard on that snowy night was
sheer magic. In the silence of the surrounding woods, our voices echoed everywhere.
“Dona nobis pacem, pacem,” we sang out, feeding off each other’s energy.
Despite the blistering cold, we smiled through chattering teeth, staring up at the heavens.
After some time, we reached the turnaround of our journey; a steep and icy hill.
The choir stopped at its foot and turned to face the crowd. Our music teacher stood
between us and the rest of the group.
“We are here today,” she cried. “To ward off winter’s chill when the days are at
their weakest. We are here today, to take our noisemakers,” she raised one above her
head. “And ward off the chill the only way we can; with music!”
With a grin, she whirled around to face the choir. Our voices burst forth
immediately, daring the cold to advance.
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
By our second run-through, the crowd was singing along. I wanted nothing more
than to remain in this place forever. Too soon, the moment ended and we tramped back to
school to sing carols and warm up. For me though, the evening’s highlight had come and
I will never forget the ethereal music I heard that night, or the sense of belonging
I felt. This memory keeps me warm on the coldest nights and keeps my soul burning
bright in the darkest times. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.