Early December in Toronto

Clouds heavy with snow hang over the city,
not yet ready to release wonder.

An occasional perfect snowflake escapes, and is suspended
between sky and earth.
It floats at the whim of a gust of wind,
and dissolves into thin, cold air before it reaches the ground.

We are gathered in a small house
on a street shadowed with old branches.
Trees silhouetted against a gray sky stand along both sides of the road
forming a tunnel of sorts, leading to the centre.

Inside, we prepare for the coming.
In ancient and timeless woman ritual, we cleanse.
We dress the birth bed and set out linens for swaddling.
We simmer fragrant broth and brew tea scented with lemon and honey.
We gather in warmth and recount the ancient myths
of gods born to virgins and carpenters,
of heaven and earth coalescing into divinity,
of the joy that this child will bring to the world.

The slow motion time of this advent cocoons us.
We wait in expectancy and excitement as the time nears and the pain begins.
We hold her close and whisper words of support.
A small boy rubs her ankles and knees, and declares his love.
His father paces and worries, cajoles and encourages, feeds and braces.
Eternal rhythms surge and wane until at last, in a midnight clear and cold,
another life begins.

Silent night, holy night.

No angels or shepherds herald this birth on a night
in early December,
but the divine within is pleased.
A girl child is born.
The world is transformed.

Twilight by Anna Syperek

Twilight etching by Anna W. Syperek

About Helen Lanthier

Helen Lanthier is an educator and an activist. She lives just outside of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, with her partner Keith and her garden. She is the mother of two wonderful daughters and has two grandchildren. She is a fledgling poet who is pleasantly surprised by the unexpected "voice" that is emerging at this later stage in her life.

About Anna W. Syperek

Well known across the Maritimes for her large format landscape etchings and watercolours, Anna is also becoming recognized nationally and internationally for her oils. She was one of only 30 artists from across Canada chosen for the 2011 national portrait exhibition, The Kingston Prize, at the Royal Ontario Museum. Her Old New Scotland Exhibition toured Scotland in 2005 after its debut in Nova Scotia. Old New Scotland Part II was shown in October at the St. FX Gallery. The inspiration for Anna’s poetic realism comes from an intuitive rapport with her surroundings. “Over the last forty years, living and painting in northeastern Nova Scotia, I have gradually come to realized that the predominately Gaelic culture here and its strong interconnection with the land has deeply influenced my work.” After graduating from NSCAD, Anna helped start the Nova Scotia Printmakers Association and initiated the printmaking studio at St. FX where she teaches Advanced Drawing. Her work is in the Canada Council Art Bank and the N.S. Art Bank, Lyghtesome Gallery, Studio 21 and many others. Please see more of Anna's work on her website.

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