“Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye

“I begin again with the smallest numbers…” 

Happy New Year everyone. May your crackles be few, and your losses fewer.

We sadly lost an unborn calf today, and yet, just on Christmas Eve, another cow miraculously welcomed happy and healthy twins. Such is the cycle of life . . . and of death. I am slowly learning to accept both.

Thank you for being here with me. Love, Christy

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you

with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin

19 thoughts on ““Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye

  1. Oh Christy I am happy you’re back and happy for the words you shared, both Merwin’s and Nye’s, I’m even happy for the tears those words made me shed. I feel you waving through the darkness in what has been the end of a year of great loss both for me and for the earth. Thank you. May our waves help move the world in 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh David, thank you for the very kind comment. I have to say though that I did burn a few bridges this year (like that Don Henley song), so maybe I was throwing off some light from those fires, haha 🙂

      PS- I need to use that song with a poem!

      “Here in this fragmented world, I still
      In learning how to give love, and how to receive it
      And I would not be among those who abuse this privilege
      Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge

      And I don’t mind saying that I still love it all
      I wallowed in the springtime
      Now I’m welcoming the fall
      For every moment of joy
      Every hour of fear
      For every winding road that brought me here
      For every breath, for every day of living
      This is my Thanksgiving

      For everyone who helped me start
      And for everything that broke my heart
      For every breath, for every day of living
      This is my Thanksgiving”

      -Don Henley

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jean mckay

    Christy, I echo the appreciation of others in saying I am so happy you’re here. You’re like a year-round Christmas Present bringing your gifts of poetry, thoughts, insights, and generosity of spirit. I’m so happy to see your emails!
    Happy 2019 to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year, Jean!
      I’m hoping to share more thoughts and musings from time to time. Sharing my life and hopefully learning more about y’all, too. Should be a fun year in that regard. Love to you and yours! ❤️


    1. We have another 3 more on the way any day. The momma of the lost calf is a twin; her sister is expecting very soon. So we’re gonna take her to the vet for her duration just in case of complications. Of course we now have a winter storm warning 👿 but it is what is is, right?

      Ps- that Faith poem today REALLY makes me want a kitten.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian Dean Powers

    The new year may be arbitrary, but for me it is a fine time to throw out what doesn’t work and steer toward other paths that might be more fruitful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I was thinking earlier how every day we wake from our sleep, our tiny little deaths, is really another new beginning, a new life.
      But I do think like you that the focal point of a new year gives us all a chance to reflect and renew. Even if most of us fall back into the same ole same ole routines.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nina

    Christy, I’ve just finished – after a few good weeks – reading each and every post on Words for the Year. Thank you so so much. Sending lots of love your way x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nina, hi!
      I am sooo glad you found me. What perfect timing too!
      I checked my post history…did you know that you read through 1,209 posts? Wow!
      I did the same a couple of years ago during a low point. I truly love how the right words can heal and inspire. So grateful to poets and artists…they are just as important as doctors and therapists.
      Lots of love to you too xx


      1. Nina

        Thank you, it feels good to be here! Thanks to you, I treated myself to Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems and Good Poems for Hard Times (which turned out to be a signed copy). This page is a gift and you are one too. Take care x

        Liked by 1 person

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