The Shortest day of the Longest Year

By Lindsay Barba

A poem for Winter Solstice 2020

Ice-crusted mittens dread the walk home.
Soles of candy-pink boots sink into the snow.
Toes ache with cold. But a blanketed yard beckons
every block or so. And off they go, a perfect pair
bundled like Eskimos, too callow to know today,

the shortest day of the longest year. It’s time to go,
I tell them. Two heads arise from imprints of
snow angels yellowed by an early streetlight’s glow.
The scrape of sidewalk salt beneath our feet keeps time
between declarations of frostbite. Inside,

we trade pom-pom hats and snow suits for
French braids and flannel pajama pants. Limbs thaw
beneath worn quilts and tangle up with words –
BabyDollFaceSweetDreamsLoveYou
that only come easily here. Their cacophony

of questions bookend somersaults in bed,
last rebellion against a dwindling day. How does it feel
to die?
one asks. I am blunted by the unknown
lingering in this suffocating season. The other answers,
decisive: It feels like floating.

She’s right, I say, and choose to believe her.

Lindsay Barba is a grant writer, poet and editor. A lifelong Northeast Ohioan, she currently resides near Akron. Her work appears at Poetry X Hunger and elsewhere.

Immediately before the pandemic, I joined a writing group through a local literary nonprofit, though I had not written creatively for nearly a decade. This group has been a saving grace for me in 2020, allowing me to channel my worries, frustrations and losses into my writing and share this year of unknowns with other writers. I wrote “The shortest day of the longest year” during the recent Winter Solstice. For me, the most comforting activity during the pandemic has been spending time with the little ones in my life. While the world stands still, they continue to grow, change and challenge. Writing poetry through the pandemic has allowed me to do the same. 

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