“The New Year Makes a Request” by Abby E. Murray

Abby E. Murray


It wants us to stop wishing for peace
like it’s the one guarding some goldmine
of surrender or compassion, like the act
of not killing each other really is
as easy as pouring tea into mugs,
like it’s something we could have had
years ago if we needed it enough
to get up and make it ourselves.
The new year is broke. The new year
wants us to put dinner on the table
for once, wants to arrive in January
without pouring a drink for anybody,
wants us to rub its swollen feet,
and while we’re at it, stop drawing it
as a baby, too. Can’t we tell how old it is,
how it’s been growing for ages
the way we give it no choice but to do,
its face withered as the leather of believing
that wishes are akin to changing?
The new year is tossing our demands
out the window like laundry, and here we are,
catching them like the birds they are not,
just a bunch of prayers as useful
as limp underpants and socks:
who will destroy the guns? the dictators?
the injustice? we shriek. Who will bring us
what we’re waiting for? and the new year
points to so much peace within reach of us
in the shape of rubble or sweat
or estrangement or disapproval or debt,
needing to be gathered, sorted, and kept.
Get it yourselves, the new year says,
and its voice is as clear as a mother’s.

from Poets Respond
January 1, 2024


Abby E. Murray: “This poem is what I feel my gut saying every time I wish for peace in the new year, especially this year, as it culminates in more war and uncertainty than last year. I imagine this new year as the mother of our future, listening to our prayers for peace that remain unfollowed by action. She wants us to get off our asses and make the peace we need ourselves.” (web)

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