Winter Solstice 2020

Solstice comes; the Fall is broken,

torn apart by icicle-teeth.

This place, long dying, finally knows death; and the choice of frost:

let it end here, in the snow, your final moments suffused with the false warmth of hypothermia,

or else rise, somehow, and push forward far enough to find a place
where you can
kindle a fire.

Solstice comes, and we are rid of Autumn at last.

For it’s in the hopeless Autumn that we know our minds for a curse. Other animals have fur, have better teeth to gnaw hardier roots, or to tear meat from each other’s skin. Other animals are smart enough, if they cannot live in the coolth, to huddle in dens. We

build dens in our skulls,
and they are never well-chosen,
for our sense of smell is never as keen
as those of our less-sapient brethren,

and so we might not know
what really lies
in the back
of the cave,

in the back
of our minds.

We can think of
so many ways to die
(thank you,

but our brains cannot sense food in a snow-cloaked country,

nor can we, through dint of mind alone,
fight back the frostbite that creeps up our skin.

and yet,
and yet,

Solstice comes,
and with it,
I feel as though I can smell
the life-giving smoke
of the earliest campfires.

I was not there, and cannot know,
but this seems possible: that it might have been the cold which forced us to stop wandering aimlessly,
and to learn
how to retain
what heat we had left.

Solstice comes,
and with it,
perhaps the remembrance
of how we first collected sparks
(of lightning!)
and, at last,
had something in the center of our homesteads
to give us life.

it might have been the cold that forced us
to learn a little of fire,

and though we cannot know for sure,

fire is an early enough art that we can credit the lighting of flame

as being our first art,

and we can credit art with the vision
to see things that aren’t yet,

and how they might be made to be.

All that from fire,
all fire from fear of death,
all fear of death from everpresent cold,
everpresent cold is the calling-card of Winter,

Solstice comes,
Winter returns,
and with it,

the opportunity to survive,
to summon fire for its light and heat.

Solstice comes. Lord Hades has his love, the Winter Court begin their revels and I,

I come with a bag of very new tricks,

to wake the very old world from its overlong and disquiet sleep.

Let’s take rough joy
in the death of what has been,
this time,
an implacable foe:

the forever-Autumn.

The always-withering season
of slow-sapped will,
the seemingly endless dread
of oncoming blizzards.

It’s never easy
to fight your way through
a Winter storm,

but it’s not ease that I seek,

it’s a re-lighting
of fires

that we seem to think
have been lost.

Solstice comes;
and if it brings death,
let it be the death of
mindless anger
grinding fear
primal nightmare.

Slow steps,

I have embers here,
they have not gone out,
let us blow on them with care,
feed them what vegetation we can find,
bring them slowly
to blaze.

warm your hands,
infuse your heart with resolve,
and make of your mind
a combustion engine,

burning to rebuild.

Solstice comes,
and we begin.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.