New Year’s Eve

A Prose Poem by Bryan Barks

As we walk to dinner, you and I are reflecting on what an awful year it has been.

“But at least we got married this year!” you say. No, my love. That was last year.

But yes, let’s just say we got married this year. Let’s push the rest away and say we’re getting married next year and the next. Let’s hoard the anticipation and the afterglow. Let’s keep stacking rings until we can’t see our fingernails, until the tiny circles start falling to our feet.

Let’s say we’re getting married tomorrow and on every bleak Monday morning. On the bathmat in winter, shivering in a white towel. In the kitchen amid the shards of the cup you just broke, let’s say our vows.

In the hospital, we get married every day at 4 p.m. Your name in the visiting log is the signature on our marriage certificate. A crisp commitment, the i’s in your name buoyant and devoted. Each kiss goodbye is a mutual promise to stay.

There is no perfect place. No perfect person, no perfect year or words or season.

The lump in my throat is a church; we are standing inside it. My hand on your shoulder is a vow. Our patio in snow an altar. Every bite you feed me with your hands is cake.

So no need to wear white, no need to light sparklers to celebrate this terrible year or its grand exit. Just the two of us by the fire, hoping for better.

Bryan Barks is a writer and advocate living the Washington, DC area.

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