WINTER SOLSTICE, PARIS STREET
Tonight my friend of thirty years
hobbles up the walkway at the end of the 4th world,
her dreadlocks decades-long, perfumed with patchouli.
The morning paper lies in the yard like a bludgeoned fish.
In the long count on the shortest day, we start our letting go.
Holding slender candles, we anoint ourselves with rosemary, bay oil,
lay out our griefs and losses, first one then the other, like solitaire.
We consider the end of the Mayan Calendar, the three failed worlds that came before.
I think, I don’t believe in anything anymore.
So we snuff the candles and sit unspeaking in the ruffled dark.
Spanish moss unfolds its silver pashminas and the long night wends itself through the garden.
In the empty pit, I coax up a fire from newspaper, fallen oak.
The grey cat we call Lucky, the cat no one wanted,
nuzzles our feet and we’re bathed in the greeny air, the woodsmoke.
All down our block, wind chimes sound in the breeze before rain like temple bells.
My friend rocks in her seat, remembering poems. Next year’s door creaks open.
A dozen gilt moons glow in the orange tree.
Silent as a gong, the real moon peers down, gleams.
Gianna Russo is the author of Moonflower, winner of the Florida Book Award Bronze and Florida Publishers Association Silver awards. She has had publications in Green Mountains Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, The MacGuffin, Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Water Stone, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, and Calyx, among others. She is founding editor of the Florida poetry chapbook publisher YellowJacket Press and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University where she directs the Sandhill Writers Retreat.