A New Year


By Dana Gioia

Let other mornings honor the miraculous.
Eternity has festivals enough.
This is the feast of our mortality,
The most mundane and human holiday.

On other days we misinterpret time,
Pretending that we live the present moment.
But can this blur, this smudgy in-between,
This tiny fissure where the future drips

Into the past, this flyspeck we call now
Be our true habitat? The present is
The leaky palm of water that we skim
From the swift, silent river slipping by.

The new year always brings us what we want
Simply by bringing us along—to see
A calendar with every day uncrossed,
A field of snow without a single footprint.

I think it’s a good sign of my mental health that I woke up looking forward to writing January 1, 2021 for the very first time. After these months of solitary holidays, hunkered down alone in our silent cloister at water’s edge, good friends enticed us to join them on the western edge of the lake at dark, for a picnic in the snow around a campfire, to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In my favorite winter hour, l’here bleure, they lit the candles and lanterns, the wind was calm, geese flew by overhead, and we watched the lights on shore begin to come on and twinkle. We drank champagne and ate roasted hot dogs and beans around the crackling fire. And we laughed and laughed, telling epic stories about winters forty years ago. It was grand, and I think last night was the best sleep I’ve had in many months. No bad dreams–courtesy of the champagne, perhaps–but here we are, the start of a new year. There is hope in new beginnings.

“The new year always bring us what we want/Simply by bringing us along…”

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