Dear 2021: The Start of It

Late last year I contributed to a project run by Nik Perring, Writer-In-Residence at Sheffield Library in the UK, titled Dear 2021: The Start of It.

The project was an initiative of Sheffield Library and their new digital channel. And it is now live. You can watch and listen to a range of poems.

Dear 2021, The Start of It videos

Here’s the teaser: Sheffield Library Teaser

There’s also a playlist of those who contributed: Sheffield LIbrary Playlist

And here is the link to my contribution: A Prayer for 2021

I hope you spend some time listening to these are there are some remarkable pieces reflecting on the year that was, and looking forward to the year that will be.

Here is the text of my poem so you can follow along as you listen to my Antipodean accent.

Next year
is a year of cautious uncertainty
of starting lists of Things To Do, People To See, Dreams To Have
written on sheets of wet paper
trying hard not to push the pen through in our haste and excitement
Slowly, slowly. Take your time.
We wish for the ordinary like shopping for toilet paper, attending birthday parties, listening to live music, having cups of tea together

After the year that has been
we remember Death still has its sting
not the quick, sharp bite of a Band Aid pulled from the skin
but the tearing of a soul from soul
where we collect the leftover memories like crumbs
to drop them as markers to find our way back to a hope worn gently across our shoulders
a favourite hoodie we wear for comfort in our solace and solitude
hands stuck deep into pockets, cradling ourselves

May gentleness be our watchword, a whispered prayer for salvation
heard in the boiling of the kettle
seen in the pegs holding our washing on the clothesline
the ghosts of ourselves dancing in the wind

When our hands were empty of crumbs, they retreated in fear
tightened into fists holding nothing but emptiness
let us unfurl our fists and dip them into bags of seeds
planting in the fallow soil and hoping for a harvest
let us return to the courtesy of common unity, enrich the soil of our neighbour’s yard
bless each other’s humanity and pray for rain to water the soil

Next year
we will listen for the cadence of time in the snap of fresh bed sheets
not the turning of pages of the calendar like autumn leaves

Next year
while I have lungs to give breath to speak
soaked as they are in the condensation of compassion and doubt
I will squeeze my lungs out like sponges
and give utterance to my hope
letting my words drip over my hands
down my arms
running off my elbows
into the ploughed ground of next year

Next year
each day is an advent, the waiting for an adventure
the coming of things promised

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