Gogyohka for the winter solstice

A sequence of gogyohka for Frank Tassone’s solstice prompt.


longest night full of cloud

unlit by any moon

unlit by any sun

yet when the morning comes

the balance has tipped


at the end of the longest night

is always the morning

perched on the rim of the sky—

though clouds hang heavy

night’s grip loosens


in the dark

cloud-heavy rain-running

loud with night voices

of braided water

waiting for the promised morning


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

27 thoughts on “Gogyohka for the winter solstice”

    1. Thank you! I think the solstice was so important to early people because they lived on hope. There must have been so few certitudes in their lives. I can imagine them breathing a sigh of relief when the sun rose after the longest night and they could start to count on the days getting longer.

      1. Yes, and how blessed we are to open a weather app on our phone to know the forecast and the next sunset and sunrise.

      2. We are, yet there are still people with access to all the apps who believe the world is flat, it was created in seven days, there is no such thing as climate change and dinosaurs are a myth. Much good science and technology has done them!

  1. The phrase “braided water” is especially appealing. That’s just how water looks sometimes–and how it sounds. When the winter feels too long, in January and February typically, I try to take comfort in the days that are actually getting longer. I have to say it doesn’t really work. I wonder if the first observers of the season after solstice had a truer take on gradually more daytime.

    1. I imagine they were more concerned that the nights would continue getting longer and longer until the sun never rose at all. The sun is life.
      It is hard to get so excited about the lengthening days when we know how the earth turning around the sun changes the seasons and the hours of daylight. Our main concern is keeping comfortable and we also know that it’s going to get a lot colder before the spring.
      I saw a documentary about Leonardo Da Vinci when I was a kid and was very struck by his observations of nature and how forms repeat themselves, drawing water and the braids of a woman’s hair in the same way.

      1. You’re right, we probably don’t get excited about longer days until we know we can vacation in them. That documentary sounds both just and foundational. I’ve been reading lately about repeating patterns in nature that scientists are noting–the spiral like that of the nautilus, the hexagonal shape of plant cells. Your braided water image, maybe inspired in part by Da Vinci, is a treat to imagine. For hair, too, certainly.

      2. We don’t give nature enough artistic credit. The spiral whorl is one of the earliest images to have been replicated by early man after all. They knew something we have lost.

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