WHEN THE YEAR IS NEW
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning
but a going on, with all the wisdom
that experience can instill in us
– Hal Borland
Once, Alakanmi was born
And before him, night and day, like eagles
adorning broad, long and fingered wings,
angled, glide through the waves
of life, that life sprawled far ahead
like a gaping ocean.
Albeit, sooner or later, with many rip currents,
deadly jellyfishes and great white sharks
hurricanes and monster waves.
Sooner or later.
On this single journey of Alakanmi,
with turns and stops
Night and day become unrelenting guides,
foes and allies,
Leading him to the tops of hills
and shallow valleys of
what he would sing about; “Life…”
Alakanmi berthed at settlements,
real and fantastic
And there, poured out like hot magma,
onto the shores of a new year
with contemporaries, screaming greetings of survival
and throwing up sparks of fireworks
in celebration of this new arrival
“New Year?” Alakanmi would not celebrate,
“What’s new in the year?
The burns, the pains, the scars
all remain, with memories
of past seasons, engulfed in rage and grace”.
What’s new in the year?
Has the hue of petals changed?
Did the sky suddenly lose her luster?
Did the oceans turn blood or wine?
What has the world become, the other?
Did a body perish that should not?
Has air ceased to blow, or
Does money now grow on trees?
Have we become monkeys, galloping
on the back of days and nights to a new year?
“It is time to listen, Alakanmi”
To a story told me by the resolved pasts of my leaning.
We were little, men and women,
Gathering around stoked fires,
We would throw a stone into the fire
with the passing of each day and night,
Like eagles gliding through waves,
And we learnt to count the years,
By the passing of nights and days.
We have learnt to be grateful,
even if, for the length of a windy journey,
with surprises springing up with no warning,
with a freshness announced by morn
and the greying of the nights.
Nothing is yet new but
the birth of each waking day and sleepy night
and hope, carried like the hunter’s torch
through the dingy bellies of days.
We have learnt to be grateful.
Grateful for the days past and the coming,
And more for today, the present,
the ever loyal friend and foe,
beckoning with outstretched arms
to savour the interior of time,
pregnant with moments never seen
or seen with dimensions never perceived.
It’s a new day, always a new year
never filled by resolutions but
the blood of perspiration
We have learnt to count the years
The drawing nigh of time,
To be grateful, for what had been,
what could have been
And what absolutely is here
While wishing for all, with the best of intentions
what is wished for the self
as this single journey of Alakanmi
paces on ruthlessly beneath the sway
of the eagles of nights and days.
Write it on your heart that
every day is the best day in the year
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Poem © Kunle Jaiyesimi