In our house, the first of January
heralds a resolute simplicity. No,
not just the clean calendar on the
kitchen door, nor the new date
on letters; not even the bundling out
of the dry tree with its trail
of needles to the back porch,
but a return to routine. Clearing
the Christmas clutter
signals renewal, a re-ordering;
it is a woman taking off jewelry
before scrubbing the kitchen floor.
And so I lift away the mantel’s
necklace, a cedar swag pointed with
blue berries and white lights.
Down comes the rosy ribbon from
the decoy duck’s neck, the holly sprig
from the antique scale (my husband
was weighed on it when he was born),
the scarlet candles, riskily lop-
sided from all December’s burnings.
For myself, and for this shelf
across the fire-place brick,
I plan a chasteness free of dust
and trivia–a candle-stick or two,
a copper bowl, paired pottery crocks
to anchor arcs of bittersweet.
But with a barely noticed stealth
the wooden width accumulates
its own decor: a spendthrift of screws,
shipping labels, old lists,
a brass bell turned silent–its
clapper tongue plucked out by
the root; a pulled wishbone,
a curious knot of wood, an envelope
scribbled with verse, and in april,
part of a robin’s egg chipped
from the sky. Disorder spreads
so surely along the mantlepiece,
that by early June I feel as though
the only things I’ve failed
to keep there are
my New Year’s resolutions.
~Luci Shaw, from WinterSong: Christmas Readings by Madeline L’Engle and Luci Shaw
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:: this post is part of the Friday Poetry roundup hosted by A Year of Reading.