A Winter Solstice Walk
When the dark dome above pits
the snow below with flecks of light,
like crushed diamonds in moonlight,
my little dog walks above
and I below the crust of snow.
My dog and I navigate by dead reckoning
under the night sky, see the Bear and Polaris
dot the dome and spark the crust where,
like thin-skinned gods, we demand propitiation,
a vicarious oblation.
She hunts by smell and I by sight
pulling me along this hibernal night.
She’s in a flurry to find her foe
below the thin crust of snow,
a mole or field mouse close below.
She stops her walk and cocks her head
to listen and smell below the foe
who leaves its home knowing the snow
would hide it well like a turtle shell,
a shield below, a carapace of snow.
She sniffs the surface of the crust
and buries her face and huffs, she
looks over her shoulder at me as if to say,
you didn’t think I’d do that this cold day,
a beard white-on-white she rabidly shakes.
The smell of wood smoke turns me back.
My dog protests its hollow hunt and looks
downcast to be denied her instinct to attack,
but the night is bitter and I know more than she,
a thin-skinned god is no pedigree.
by William R. Stoddart
Editor’s Note: This narrative poem’s concise imagery and thoughtful rhyme surprises the reader into looking at an ordinary (and likely universally experienced) scene with a more appreciative understanding.