Winter Solstice 2022 Collection

The Winter Solstice is, for many, a time to go inward, to hunker down, reflect, or grab a good book and cup of tea by the fire. For some, it’s a time of acknowledging the impermanence of life: the season of passing and death, just one stop along the cycle. Some come together with family and friends while others venture outdoors to take on the invigorating cold and put their bodies and minds to the test. Whatever your tradition or history, the Winter Solstice is a time of transition. We are continually reminded of the fact that all things change. Nothing lasts. It is an important practice in Buddhist traditions to regularly remind ourselves of our mortality. An uncomfortable reality for many of us, but a healthy and helpful one nonetheless, to remind us that the present moment is the only moment. And that with all things that pass, new life ultimately emerges. The Winter Solstice 2022 Collection, while brief, explores many of the regular themes of human existence: identity, human connection, relationships, loss, and grappling with change. We hope that these creative nonfiction stories and poems will land with you in the ways that you need most, and resonate through the cold, silence of winter in our hearts and minds.

With gratitude,
The COALESCE Community Team

Cover Design and Photo by Erich Keyser

Creative Nonfiction

Eye to Eye by Paul Hostovsky
(Finalist of the “Fresh Eyes and New Perspectives” Creative Nonfiction Contest

ASL is symphonic. It creates meaning simultaneously with the hands, face, eyebrows, eye-gaze, lips, tongue, head-tilt, shoulder-turn—all the various sections of the body’s orchestra creating meaning at the same time. A visual-gestural symphony rising up all at once, like a controlled explosion.

Photo: Erich Keyser

Things Fall Apart by Gillette Hall
(Finalist of the “Fresh Eyes and New Perspectives” Creative Nonfiction Contest)

I cannot believe this is happening. My stomach fizzes and tugs at my insides. I swallow hard, as Cesar tries again to push me away. My knees quiver and I am knocked off balance. I will not give in. I am fighting for the life I believe I can create for the two of us. I grab again for the keys. I see his left arm rising. 

Photo: Erich Keyser

The Edge by Julie Rackliffe

Sometimes when climbing the ragged cliffs of grief, something will grab your wrist right before you tumble all the way back down. It may look like an insignificant thing, but if you let it, it can pull you up those last two inches to the next plateau. Something you didn’t even know was there, until it was.

Photo: Erich Keyser


things i’ll always be by Carina Stopenski

grimy slob with unwashed hair,
greasy flecks of scalp dance across
my face as i shake out the flakes,
a bit of fuchsia lipstick on my tooth,
thick black smudges
on my hooded eyelids.

Photo: Erich Keyser

Empathy by Lynn Gilbert

The last two days I’ve witnessed 
a mother turtle trundling down the hill
into the creek. Laying her eggs
must have been her task up here.

Photo: Erich Keyser

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