New Year's Eve, 2005

December 01, 2015

New Year's Eve, 2005

a humid December night in Sydney.

at a quarter to twelve,

surrounded by champagne glasses,

I read a poem by Wendell Berry.

soon, startling colours will

burst across the sparkling harbour.


this year, though,

      there is smoke in every hue,

             wormwood in every vintage,

                   a rift in every resolution.

the pastor, friend, who loved these nights

      is gone, a melanoma seeding

      savagery throughout his body.


years ago it was a cooler night

      and we wrapped ourselves in blankets,

             like jocular monks

                   strolling to evening vespers,

                         posing for the photographs

                                I still have in my mind.

we laughed at life, for we were young,

      and the years spread out before us

             like boxes and boxes

                   of carefully crafted sermons.


for four months

      we had prayed for him at every meal,

that kindness find a shelter from the pain,

      that grace keep goodness free

             a little longer.

but Berry's poem is true;

             the faultlines run so deep

                   in this malignant world.


tonight across the light bathed harbour

      fun buds eternal in every youthful mind.

a new year is a new beginning, but,

      I cling on to my fashioned faith in love,

             a divine gesture that will rescue us

while leading down the flinty road he trod.

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