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BURNING THE OLD YEAR
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
 
So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.
 
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
 
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.
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“Burning the Old Year” appears in Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection  Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1952, Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, songwriter, novelist, and children’s book author. Her many honors and awards include four Pushcart Prizes, The Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and many notable book and best book citations from the American Library Association.