I have been giving you New Year's poems all week long. Poems about crossing a threshold, moving from darkness to light, despair to hope. Last year was difficult for most people. Divisive. Angry. Unhappy. So, the threshold from 2016 to 2017 is a movement from division to unity, anger to peace, unhappiness to . . . well, you get the idea.
I don't know where that 2017 threshold is right now. I want to embrace unity and peace, but the world seems to be conspiring against that. My neighbor still has his "Hillary for Prison" sign plastered on the side of his house (it's a huge sign, taking up most of the wall). Another neighbor has made a permanent place on his front porch for his "Trump/Pence" sign (along with his white sheets and swastika arm bands, I'm sure).
I wrote a poem a few years ago about last words. Words that people say as they move from life to death (or death to afterlife, depending upon your religious leanings). It's about what goes through a person's mind at the end (or the beginning). Last thoughts (or first thoughts).
Saint Marty gets to have last word today--the last New Year's poem of the week.
by: Martin Achatz
Maybe I'll whisper Jiminy,
think of long grass in August
when clouds of grasshoppers
erupted from nowhere, arced
through the air, sang a song
of wing and leg against my shins.
Or maybe I'll mutter Obi,
see a garden of carrots, peas, peppers,
a turtle small as my five-year-old
hand, moving, digging in mud,
hungry for worm or cricket or grub.
Or maybe it will be Omni,
lemon verbena on her dark skin
beside me in the lecture hall, weeks
of wanting to reach out, touch her
in places beyond my study notes,
know every glossary and index of her.
It may be Maria or Screwtape,
nicotine fingers, white hair,
a ribbon of appendix scar, dog bite.
What will travel down the Amazon
of memory to my tongue
those last seconds? What
sled or bicycle or book?
Something small, no doubt.
A stuffed giraffe. Chewed-up quilt.
Angel fish. Yeah, my angel fish.
Think her name was Athena.
Maybe. Athena, that sounds right.
God, she was beautiful.