HAPPIER NEW YEAR

I.

the world is unchanged:
seagulls cut across the empty sky
the neighbor’s drying pants lick the cold air
tree bones gnarl and firewood smolders.

the thousand fingertips of the wind
still wrinkle the cool face of the sea.

light seeps through the underbelly of the clouds:
behold the empty playground,
the broken swings haunted by dead leaves;
the woman smoking on her balcony,
frowning up at the promise of rain. 

II.

they say a new year begins today,
another trip around our unblinking star
through that eternal and silent winter
outlasted only by death itself.

december is the cruelest month
because it is the longest.
it holds its breath (a frigid hiatus,
a tongueless pause) just long enough
to mourn the dying year before submitting
to undiscovered january.

if this year, the one they claim is new,
brings me anything, let it be poetry
or its equivalent: the glow of wine
a kiss with chapped lips
a late morning under too-heavy blankets
the incense of ardent faith. 

may it grant me too
the still waters of good health
the constellations of creativity
and the serenity of a life well-loved. 

for if the world must remain the same
where masks mask, sneezes are suspect
and a hug is still hazardous
let us, at least today, embrace the yet-to-be
while we still pine
for a happier tomorrow.

(Published on 2 January 2022 in 433 Magazine.)

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