afternoon condenses into a penny
that dips over the horizon,
brushes firs and pines with copper.

Crusted snow absorbs the long shadow
of a dwarf who has paced his hundredth
mile on the day the year dies.

He pursues the ridge, its yellow glow
and what he thinks gold can buy: meat
and mead, refuge, fellowship.

Frozen dusk grips him first, stealing
his heat, pressing him to all fours,
to his ancient elemental self.

Winds rise, flurries thicken, and his fierce
heart slows and stutters just as a last ray
of sun catches a gleam of mica.

A translucent door spans a hollow tree.
Fairies? No, Frigga at her spinning wheel,
twisting fates for the coming year!

She stands, filling the doorway. Blizzard
winds scream and recoil. She summons
blue flame from the storm’s heart,

points him upright, and he’s a dwarf again,
beard melting in a rush down his shirt,
his dense mineral lust evaporating.

He bows. Blessed one, you’ve saved me.
Light has saved you, she tells him.
Honor its rebirth this solstice.

[Amy Karon is a freelance writer whose credits include Lagan Online (an anthology, Inking the Unthinkable: Poems About Poetry), Mystic Blue Review, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, and others. She lives and writes in San Jose, California.]