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New Year’s Eve, Midnight

by | Dec 20, 2022

Like fresh light snow blanketing

the hill, trees and valley,

the new year falls in a blanket of white.

At midnight, sharp stars bedeck

the velvet curtain of night

or snow falls again, melting crystals

on cheeks and chins raised

to the sky and we ponder

this slice of space-time where

days recede subtle and

temporary as ice crystals

descended and assembled into

flakes intricate and symmetrical

yet lose their individual nature

in a field of blank sameness

or as the stars also temporary

viewed from a certain scale.

At midnight,

we pick a pattern out of

a random scattering of points

of light, name the stars Orion,

Cassiopeia as the new year waits

on the cusp another unknown slice of

space and time small and meaningless

as one crystal in this blanket of snow,

nonetheless I feel the weight, even

though slight, of flakes on my eyelashes

and stinging my warm face, melting

these atoms of hydrogen and oxygen

and numberless as the stars.


This dark emptiness of midnight

yet the energy of the world is

soft and warm like the fox

and the moose leaving tracks

furred bodies in lifeless cold

in the snow as they hunt or forage

or bed down in the night

or like the purring flutter

of chickadee wings I will hear

on new  year’s morning or like

the warmth of an old nurse

paying attentive kindness

like a house of retired nuns

like the hug of one who really knows

and loves me anyway

a small child hugging tight

like a family gathered in thanks

and giving like concern

for those we cannot know

or help, but to whom we are

responsible on the first morning

of this new year perhaps the sun

will set the snow-laden fields to sparkling.

Perhaps deep lungfulls of crisp fresh air

will resonate through this body’s cells

to strap on boots and snowshoes

and walk through white softness

with the dog shaking loose

gathered snow from pine branches

and sniffing out the night

tracks of rabbits and mice,

chipmunk and squirrel, mole,

perhaps a weasel, often deer,

on a fortunate morning,

a moose, or a bird’s imprint of wings

swept down to snatch a meal,

the grouse leave hollows

from where they burrowed in the snow,

the meandering tracks of coyote

on a scent up the trail.

All this life in the woods

under snow-laden trees

unseen to us a young moose

steps through trees and deep snow,

unhindered, wet white flakes scatter

as it sends a shiver down its shaggy hide

coyotes may converge to take down,

but for the moment, it realizes

the warm energy of the world.

The moose knows not of years

that is our construct

our attempt to tame our fears

and bring order and control

we think the new year’s day

is a beginning and an end, but

it is only another flash of snow

sparkling in the sun and like the moose

we are subject to relentless flow

day evolving into night

snow melting into spring

unceasing there is no end only rising

no beginning only falling

when I stop counting

I feel the softness

stop planning and regretting

I feel the warmth is this

falling or melting in this

blanket of snow or somewhere

in between. How can we know?

I accept that I cannot and more

and more be in nonreactive

homeostasis flow.

Animal tracks disappear as if

they never really happened

and just so our moments fade,

build and subside, softly, go.

Warm energy (kindled like

firelight windows of a house

in the cold and dark) like

an angle of a snowflake glinting

but no sun this new year’s day as sky falls

gathering again in trembling molecules

ravens traverse the grey air silently

and clouds shift south in

accordance with larger systems

and maybe sun warms

some other part of the earth turning

waking greeting in turn this first morning

settling, sifting in ceaseless time.


Sarah Carlin-Ball

January 2017

(A short introductory version of this poem was published in the Winter 2022 edition of Back in the Bay Magazine)

Sarah Carlin-Ball
Sarah Carlin-Ball

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