On New Year’s Day last year
I woke up in a new home. Mine,
But not yet; loved but
Not heart-set; mine,
But a strange bed, a distant view
Of hills bathed in blue
Deep-winter light, a promise
Since redeemed. Mine,
But never before
Known. How we’ve grown
Accustomed to newness.
Familiar with not knowing how
With what words, what ink
What salutations
To greet this stranger who eats
At our table, quaffs our drink.
Not knowing if naming
Or not naming
Will drive him hence. Not wanting
To lose that which
Is always here. So dear
That no known name
Will ever change
Its forever.

This morning I woke up
In a familiar bed made new. You
Would think that this place
This house where
My children grew
Would need no naming
And part of that is true.
Yet this stranger, craning
It’s neck over my shoulder
Erasing each word I write,
Who, running beside me knew
The ache of muscles in my stride
From ship to ship, port to port
Racing from one home to another
Desperate to outpace him
This stranger has forever
Made every loved thing unfamiliar
Every borne grief new.

How may I unname him
Let me count the ways.
Not death nor loss nor absence
Or love, not sorrow nor grief
No song no poem no light above
Nor ground beneath
Nothing special or specific
Neither unique nor new
Not such that is bequeathed
To only me or even a few
Named every moment, called
Every name, beseeched
By every heart it ever threw
Always everywhere and forever
All of this is true.

Yet it has made every loved thing
Unfamiliar, every borne grief


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