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Burning the Old Year by Naomi Shihab Nye

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I promised myself I would do better. If there’s a promise to keep this year, it would be this. Also, maybe: to love myself more, which is something all of us should do, really. To love the self, because one hardly ever does that, too busy looking for someone to love, too intent on finding someone who would finally love you. Also, maybe: to have faith, even if I’m not religious. Also, maybe: to be brave, because I’ve become so scared of so many things, I think.

Also, definitely: to make time for art, to read more, to write more.

Happy new year.

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.

This is from Words Under Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, published by Far Corner Books, 1995.

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