Archive for January, 2014

The End!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The End: after what I thought was three years but now that I’ve checked I see it’s four. Four whole years of starts and stops, of losing the way and the place and the point, quite apart from the will to live. Or to finish. Or to have any faith in what I was trying to write. For ages I struggled with the ending – I got them all down to the beach and couldn’t then work out why they were there or what they were going to do, and I couldn’t get them back up from the beach either. They’ve been shivering down there for months.

But now: now it’s done. Revised at least nine times, and finally – it’s over.

Another book! When I often thought there wouldn’t ever be another book.

Of course when I say ‘The End’, or ‘it’s over’, none of that is likely to be true. Other people have to read it now and at the very least there’s bound to be a need for changes. But right now I feel so good. As light as a leaf, and twice as supple.

Burning the old year

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Naomi Shihab Nye is a remarkable poet, whose work I treasure whenever I encounter it. I posted one called ‘Shoulders’ just over a year ago, which she wrote in response to the Newtown school murders. There’s another I love called ‘Wandering around an Albuquerque airport terminal’. And now I’ve discovered this one – ‘Burning the old year’ – which is perfect for today, the first of a new year, which I’ve partly spent shredding old files. (I’d burn them if I could: much more satisfying, especially on such a drear day.)

I often think it’s the things you don’t do that you regret, rather than the things you do. And that gives the last stanza a lot of resonance for me.

Burning the Old Year
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.