Janus is a Roman two-faced god. He looks backward upon the path traversed whilst surveying the shrouded future, a guardian of gateways and thresholds for whom this month is named. It’s a long climb up from the bottom. The mountain goat’s hooves spark striking stone hoisting a coiled serpent tail from the black waters of late December. Twenty-one days have passed since the sun stood still at solstice.
The dog and I go out in the morning seeking, in fog, in rain, in frost. We search for tracks and signs, delimit fleeting clouds, eavesdrop on the crows gossiping between the fir and the oak. Walking in the rain down the steep hill to the park before Christmas Eve, I slipped on wet leaves and pine needles. I stumbled to the pavement, falling down to one knee and the heel of my right hand. We finished our tour, Mercy’s leash loose in my left hand, and came home. I bound up the wrist in an Ace bandage to support and immobilize it. Each day it improves, but there is a click inside now close to the bone that reminds me I am not young.
The new is waiting tightly as the old falls away. Last year’s leaves lie sodden against fences and curbs, spinning slowly away in the rain showers, down the hill. Today we saw willow buds beginning to crack their pods and green tips of daffodil and crocus jaunty in the mud. Exhale now. The light returns.