Like an Unexpected Gift

...and farther on to the roofs of the houses of the gods who have learned 

there are no endings, only beginnings...

~ Joy Harjo from "Rainy Dawn"

Happy New Year! Wishing you all countless moments of joy, love, happiness and peace in the coming year. May you savor each one.

With my holiday cards to friends and family, I like to include a New Year's poem, a tradition I began eleven years ago. This one struck me just right this year as I look forward to grand adventures as well as lovely "ordinary" days.

Ordinary Life
This was a day when nothing happened, 
the children went off to school
without a murmur, remembering
their books, lunches, gloves. 
All morning, the baby & I built block stacks
in the squares of light on the floor. 
& lunch blended into naptime, 
I cleaned out kitchen cupboards, 
one of those jobs that never gets done, 
then sat in a circle of sunlight
& drank ginger tea, 
watched the birds at the feeder
jostle over lunch's little scraps. 
A pheasant strutted from the hedgerow, 
preened & flashed his jeweled head. 
Now a chicken roasts in the pan, 
& the children return, 
the murmur of their stories dappling the air. 
I peel carrots & potatoes without paring my thumb. 
We listen together for your wheels on the drive. 
Grace before bread. 
& at the table, actual conversation, 
no bickering or pokes. 
& then, the drift into homework. 
The baby goes to his cars, drives them
along the sofa's ridges & hills. 
Leaning by the counter, we steal a long slow kiss, 
tasting of coffee & cream. 
The chicken's diminished to skin & skeleton, 
the moon to a comma, a sliver of white, 
but this has been a day of grace
in the dead of winter, 
the hard cold knuckle of the year, 
a day that unwrapped itself
like an unexpected gift, 
& the stars turn on, 
order themselves
into the winter night.

~ Barbara Crooker




One of these years, I will make a hand-bound edition of all the poems I've sent. Here is the beginning of the contents...

     2005 - Snow by Billy Collins
2006 - Angels by Maurya Simon
2007 - Not Only the Eskimos by Lisel Mueller
2008 - Skater by Ted Kooser
2009 - Magellanic Penguin by Pablo Neruda
2010 - Snowflake by William Baer
2011 - The Metier of Blossoming by Denise Levertov
2012 - Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
2013 - When I Am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver
2014 - New Year's by Dana Gioia
2015 - Ordinary Life by Barbara Crooker

Sarah Burns