New Year’s Day

I received this in an email newsletter this morning and quite liked it so I thought I’d share:

New Year’s Day

From Ballistics (Random House, 2008)

Everyone has two birthdays
according to the English essayist Charles Lamb,

the day you were born and New Year’s Day–

a droll observation to mull over

as I wait for the tea water to boil in a kitchen

that is being transformed by the morning light

into one of those brilliant rooms of Matisse.

“No one ever regarded the First of January

with indifference,” writes Lamb,

for unlike Groundhog Day or the feast of the


this one marks nothing but the passage of time,

I realized, as I lowered a tin diving bell

of tea leaves into a little body of roiling water.

I admit to regarding my own birthday

as the joyous anniversary of my existence

probably because I was, and remain

to this day in late December, an only child.

And as an only child–

a tea-sipping, toast-nibbling only child

in a colorful room this morning–

I would welcome an extra birthday,

one more opportunity to stop what we are doing

for a moment and reflect on my being here on earth.

And one more might be a small consolation

to us all for having to face a death-day, too,

an X in a square

on some kitchen calendar of the future,

the day when each of us is thrown off the train of time

by a burly, heartless conductor

as it roars through the months and years,

party hats, candles, confetti, and horoscopes

billowing up in the turbulent storm of its wake.

Billy Collins

I went out last night. But I shouldn’t have. It never works out for me, going out on New Year’s Eve. I try to fake it, but in the end I always feel like crap. So that’s it. I tried it. Now, never again. Last New Year’s Eve was spent alone at home, quietly reflective and optimistic. I try but I can’t hold that feeling in a crowd of revellers.

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