Francesca Aoki Biller's Japanese and Russian grandmothers. Photos courtesy Francesca Aoki Biller.

Winter Poems As We Celebrate at Hanukkah

Inspired by her multicultural heritage, poet celebrates winter

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area, Francesca Aoki Biller, found the combination of her Russian-Jewish and Japanese-Buddhist heritage challenging and inspiring. Both her grandmothers and her struggles with identity and faith fueled her creativity. After years working as a journalist, she has recently turned to poetry which she has found to be a space for exploring the big questions about identity and the simple joys of daily life. This week, she gifts us two winter-themed poems as a way to enrich our Hanukkah celebration. Her first collection of poetry will be published in the Spring of 2018 with Zorba Press.




Bright wintry sun,

May you shine for us now!

Looking for all that

Your heaven allows,


We have waited so long

For your brisk biting sheen-

How “sweet” are your beams,

We know just what they mean–


As we wander too long

On the warmth we partake,

Dear sweet December

We ‘now’ lay awake . . .


On the hopes of a time

When slumber can be

With lovers nearby,

Not more wishing for ‘we’


And the children sit warm

For a few years here,

Oh Bright wintry sun

How we feel you, so near.




Falling slow from a perch, a bit gentle by three

A winter bird sings only songs he knows true,

And fluttering close, near a sun we can’t see

Beams a warming of wind, perhaps only for you,

No matter the crackles of beats heard nearby

All matter of blossoms are budded ‘kind’ here,

While the dark of a past fades over a sky

A rustling of hope settles for a New Year,


For this is the season of light and of glee

As a year fades to dust with a shattering cry,

No more will the storms of banishment be

Only hope is our hymn, as fear wearies by,


I see the glow of our grace that stands strong  

Just watch the young children run wild and free,

We too can muster new hymns written long

If we close our sore eyes, we may finally see,


That a new day is minted, for even the meek

Who thought all was lost, as loneliness stirred,

Rejoice in this season, and may we all seek

A passage of  home, rich with welcoming words


Farewell to the critics who once questioned why

Our very existence, on shores we chose free,

No more will we hide from a darkness of lies

As our very own hearth may ‘just let us be’


Basking in warmth, in our faith we know light

A journey hard fought, a soul’s final space,

Dear gracious Winter,  your gleam is so bright

As we rest now ‘as found’, no matter our race!


May we “only” know doors that open too wide

As too many friends say ‘Hello’ to our hearts,

May we give only gifts that can warm us inside

As we embrace every being, no love left to part


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