Inside the sacral fane the flame
burns in reverence to the night
that is omnipotent in Name;
it casts hallowed shadows to flight

yet sets them also to stridently dance —
as the ritual deepens the cold
of Winter hurls a Hyperborean lance
to stimulate the life-force, honeyed-gold.

Tales are told, in bawdy tone —
drunken roars swell the mead-hall
& incite warmth to the hoariest bone
afflicted by mortality’s shading pall.

About the Yule-tree gathered in song —
the fire burns a sempiternal light
as the year’s specters & worried wrongs
fade into an atmosphere bedight.

Tales are told, in rounding groups;
the shade of Winter is cast in spectral flesh.
Endlessly repeat the oft-told loops
woven by the fire’s blood-quickening mesh.

Desecrated graves, & bodies cold
with the Yuletide’s preternatural bite
struggle up from snow-dappled mold
to haunt the gelid, crystalline night —

drifts of snow obscure the tread
that marks no imprint on earthly things.
A sense of Winter’s Promethean dread
gives to black fancy frost-fretted wings.

I shiver, & wonder at the ice-clad earth.
I contemplate those that slumber beneath.
Some loving semblance of heat-laced breath
I to them in these rude stanzas bequeath.

[Scott J. Couturier hails from the frigid far north of Michigan. A novelist, poet, rock n’ roll archivist & editor, his work has appeared in such venues as The Audient VoidFeverish Fiction, & the upcoming Weird fiction anthology Test Patterns. He has recently released The Curse of Roc-Thalian, third volume in his ongoing dark fantasy series The Magistricide – the first volume of the series (The Mask of Tamrel) is available for free download on Amazon.com]