Why We Need New Year’s Day and the Passage of Seasons
Because we are iron in a smithy world
which heats and hammers us beyond self-recognition,
leaving us slow to learn renewal,
too grumpy or fogged most mornings
to notice that our hearts still surge blood
to every point along the body’s map,
and that our minds are still what computers emulate.
After all, even monks with no other life
cannot harness themselves to awareness every second.
And yet, a garbage collector I know
carries his life like a diamond,
and an exhausted mother
immersed in four-child babble all day
hitches her mind to a book each night,
if only for five minutes
before she careens into sleep.
Praise, then, to the policeman who paints portraits,
and to the bank teller who keeps a journal.
Praise to the thwarted shop steward who keeps
his standing appointment to play catch with his child.
Praise to the heartbroken social worker who subscribes to the symphony.
Praise to the math teacher who photographs birds,
and to the roofer who, hoping for hope,
believes that, next year, his team will do better.
Praise the toddler and the hospice-dweller
as they stumble in new passages.
Praise all who breathe.
Praise all who once breathed and now nourish the ground.
Praise all whose stories have already been written,
and all those who still have at least one more chance.
(“Seventy time seven,” says Jesus,
are the chances we each should have.)
Let the fireman remember his own life as he chops with the axe.
Let neither the minister neglect his wife,
nor the doctor her husband.
Let none of us simply swallow our lives whole.
But if the minister, the doctor, and we should fail,
let us have new years and fresh seasons.
Let us have seventy times seven chances.
In 2017, Daniel Simpson and his wife, Ona Gritz, collaborated on two books, co-authoring Border Songs: A Conversation in Poems and co-editing More Challenges for the Delusional, an anthology of prompts, prose, and poetry. His first collection of poems, School for the Blind came out in 2014. The New York Times and numerous poetry magazines have printed his work. The recipient of a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship, he tends a blog at www.insidetheinvisible.wordpress.com.
3 thoughts on “Why We Need New Year’s Day and the Passage of Seasons by Daniel Simpson”
This is wonderful. Thank you, One Art, and thank you, Daniel Simpson.
The opening of a new year offers new chances, new possibilities. Yesterday, we expected a new onslaught of cold wind gusts and snow. The cold arrived without the wind. Clouds moved in overhead but forgot to leave snow. At day’s end, sunset appeared in a suddenly turquoise sky behind behind a grove of tall, leafless tulip trees.
What a great poem–what a great leap into metaphor in that first line, and then such a moving litany of praise. Fabulous framing for the new year.