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.
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.