Daphne weeps alone in the garden, weeps alone and reaches blindly for solace, with none to be found. Daphne weeps and reaches blindly and searches for something half-remembered – days when she wore sunshine like a cloak, when whispers were promises, when every song became a seed, and every seed grew, green-clad and certain.
Now the roses, once flowing red and gold, lie barren and bone-still. Now the towering camellia bears its pinkness like a burden, distant and heavy with endings. Now the bright kaleidoscope of flowering has vanished, leaving bare branches and spindly stems in stark silhouette against the late-December sky.
Daphne stumbles toward solace, runs from the ruins. Daphne stumbles and searches and weeps, moving into blackness, the longest night of the year. Daphne is swallowing darkness, falling, falling.
Daphne sleeps, dreamless and empty. Night turns to day. Turns to night. Turns to day. Still, she sleeps in her internal cavern, blanketed by first snowfall, hidden from the shape-shifting season change.
At last, Daphne awakens. Resuming her stumbling, her searching, her reaching, she suddenly stops.
She is not weeping. Instead, she is seeing. Look, there is edgeworthia, smothered in silver balls, each one curled around a honey-dreaming white-gold center. And look, there is hellebore – and there, and there. Each Lenten rose proclaims its own resurrection, in a half-hidden chorus of cream and pale green and magenta and soft coral. The camellia, bathed in the new light, dazzles with pink, invites an intimate closeness. And look – everywhere – plump yellow pansies, like newborn suns, triumphant!
Daphne is seeing, feeling, believing, noticing that daytime is a few minutes stronger.
Daphne speaks to all who will listen:
“Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning. The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry, The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony Of death and birth.”
With the words of T. S. Eliot still ringing in the air, Daphne throws her arms open wide to welcome winter.