The Sun At Capricorn

Halcion: a mythical bird, identified as the kingfisher

Halcion Days: the calm allegedly occurring for 1 week before

and 1 week after the shortest day of the year


These are the Halcyon Days,

when the year holds its breath, and is silent.

The skies have cleared, the rains has ended,

in a delicate accord with mythic pronouncement,

and has washed away

that first scant flurry of the season;

the sun, as cold and hard as it is icily brilliant,

like a brittle steel that seems untouchable,

wanders briefly, grandly, but Oh so ineffectually, overhead.

Now the bird floats in an azure seascape,

patiently waiting, ready to pluck

silver-gilled prey

from an unruffled transparency of water.

Big billed, and brightly colored,

it gathers the horizon in its scan.


sailing ships stand

in the midst

of their reflection’s calm.

The harbor holds them fast.

Not even a shimmer disturbs them.

Hold on to the picture!

Light fades before you grasp it,

before a flickered shutter can encompass it:

light compressed between

dark morning sobriety, and the night’s bold blackness.

Oh Kingfisher! How can you bear

to be unmoved, unmoving, so frozen by time

so bound by this curiosity of space,

and not unleash some anguish of the heart,

least one wildly eloquent screech, one muscular flap

of wing in admonishment of winter’s bruit?

And why not fly, with that especial

brazen proficiency of your species,

to a less non-congenial environment?


Must you, like us, be stilled,

stifled by metabolic rates so low and cold

they verge upon the myxedematous,

and have as need a sense of familiarity,

to sit upon one’s nest as the days foreshorten?


We wait, as you, for the moment,

for that nadir of solstices, to come, and to go,

for days of calm to vanish;

then for winds, swaggering up from the south,

whistles, white water, and whirligigs,

and for the excitement, thereafter,

of longer days to envelop us.