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Do you, at the end of the year, think about the past or the future? Do you reflect on the year gone by, perhaps even the feeling itself of time passing, or do you look ahead to fresh opportunities? Perhaps, if you’re like me, you look backward as well as forward, seeking to focus these reflections in a poetic moment. As Joe put it so well on Tuesday, the present moment is all that we ever have, and it is the poet’s province to memorialize this place: always here, and always unique. The moment is always passing, always arriving. More than at any other time of year, the last few days of December imbue the poetic moment with currents of memory and anticipation: we walk forward with eyes in the backs of our heads. The end of the year poem is often an odd amalgam of reminiscence and hope, a mingling of old and new, the warmth of the hearth and the edginess of that which is yearning to be born.

Last week while I was reading poetry my love came home from her morning walk and handed me the tiny leaf you see (enlarged) in the photo above. Its beauty arrested me, particularly the strong green veins coursing through its thick wine colored envelope. It embodied a contradiction: life and death in one precious package, recovered from the ground and brought to my study. Here is the poetry I was reading:

from Time in the Rock
by Conrad Aiken

This image or another, this quick choosing,
raindrop choosing a path through grains of sand
the blood-drop choosing its way, that the dead world
may wake and think or sleep and dream

This gesture or another, this quick action
the bough broken by the wind and flung down
the hand striking or touching, that the dead world
may know itself and forget itself

This memory or another, this brief picture
sunbeam on the shriveled and frosted leaf
a world of selves trying to remember the self
before the idea of self is lost -

Walk with me world, upon my right hand walk,
speak to me Babel, that I may strive to assemble
of all these syllables a single word
before the purpose of speech is gone.

Our prompt is simple: reflect on the year past, meditate on the year about to begin, or both. If you’re in a more celebratory mood and would like to ring the new year in with a poem, that’s fine too. Drink a toast to your fellow poets tonight and when you’re ready, see how they have embraced the moment. Because of work and (I hope) a glass or two of bubbly tonight, my reading time will have to wait until New Years Day. So for now Go Daddy Go and Swing Baby Swing! and I’ll see you on your pages soon.

Mark Kerstetter

Click the Mr. Linky box below, then add your name and paste the url of your poem and submit.

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