For a New Year by Holly Wren Spaulding

Let plain things please you again

and every ordinary Monday.

Bean soup in a white bowl,

firewood in your arms.

The weight of longing.

That you have survived is evidence

that nothing is assured

but you are lucky.

Looking up from this page

let all of it surprise you –

piled mail. other people, the air.

For a New Year

There are many poems about the new year, a time that causes all of us, much less poets, to reflect on what has transpired in the previous twelve months and what the coming months may bring. I first had in mind Anne Hillman’s We Look With Uncertainty but realized I had posted it back in March as we embarked on the unknown journey of the pandemic. The title still calls to me but I chose this one for its immediacy and simplicity which feel necessary as we move deeper into uncertainty albeit with a tender hopefulness.

What could be more simple than her invitation to Let plain things please you again as well as every ordinary Monday. In other words, any ordinary day, with ordinary things we tend to take for granted – soup, a white bowl, firewood in our arms. The weight of longing – this too is something we experience at times, perhaps not even knowing for what, just that inarticulate sense of something we are wanting.

That you have survived is evidence / that nothing is assured / but you are lucky. Reading this, know you have survived these challenging past months, yet as she says, this is not evidence that life is guaranteed but that good fortune has been with you. These are words to take in deeply and then, let all of it surprise you – and she returns us to the plain things, the ordinary days. This is what our lives are made of. Let us be surprised and aware and grateful as never before. May this new year please you.

14 thoughts on “For a New Year by Holly Wren Spaulding

  1. Nice, I needed this today. I just took pleasure in trying to change my bed sheets with my cat, Thelma. I did smile. Going in for foot surgery tomorrow, then staying at my sister’s house for 15 days. I will take this poem with me.


  2. I love this beautiful tender sense of letting the ordinary please. It it comforts in times of strange and crazy facts such as a pandemic and what is required of us to live with all of that. And while I do not have any idea what may come, I have survived other things that have been very difficult too. So yes be grateful for this moment–the bean soup, the ease of snow falling and how blessed I have been .
    Thank you again for this gentle yet strong reminder.
    Maureen McGahey


  3. This past year has been so full of drama that it makes our heads spin. The drama is far from over – but as I read this poem, slowly and out loud a few times, my breath also slows. Simple comfort moments. Thank you Jan.


      • Probably just an oversight but I believe this poem is by Holly Wren Spaulding. I don’t see her listed as the author. Such a moving poem – like a balm for my spirit.


      • Good grief Donna, My deep apologies and thanks for pointing out my most egregious error. I can’t believe I made such a mistake but I have corrected it and will draw attention to that in my next post. Truly grateful to you for alerting me. Janice


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