Catherine Champion, "Winter Solstice"



In early winter, the waves of Lake Michigan
clap against the mouth of the Black River

and surge up past the height of the lighthouse.
The surf freezes in reefing ice along the shore.

South Haven is dead long before this time;
the dark storefronts of the ice cream parlors

are locked in seasonal slumber. Two warm lights
remain in the newsstand and the town bar

where televisions flash a more present world.
This is my father’s favorite time of year—

once, he gathered us and announced a drive
to the lake, to celebrate the year’s shortest day.

We were never sure why the briefness of light
gave him such cause, but we knew its rareness;

a midday silken twilight shawled the horizon
and he took the car to a highpoint overlooking

Lake Michigan’s icy shore, silenced the ignition.
We could feel something solidify inside him

as he sat there, fixed in the mauve of evening,
the stir of lake-effect moving the sky closer,

the waves frozen in such an impossible moment
of freezing; rising over the beach, never breaking.


Catherine Champion's poems appear in Boxcar Poetry Review, Redivder, Birmingham Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Hollins Critic, Fugue, and elsewhere.