Drawing the Line
What could be simpler than this?
To distinguish past from future,
old from new.
To turn the year like a page,
rediscover our taste for happy endings,
our need for regret.
“You have to draw the line somewhere”
But always the hand trembles,
the eye fails,
and the heart cannot keep
its memories straight.
Life, like poetry,
is never drawn to scale.
How strange that the shortest distance between two points
should be our most fundamental of separations –
that can both emphasise and cancel –
so that you draw a margin on the blank page
not only to underline the emptiness,
but also to make it yours.
We exist in a world of shapes and parallels,
imagining lines everywhere –
stencils of states we partition our maps with,
checkerboards of calendars,
and the diagonal of God,
dividing eternity from oblivion –
we are like children
cutting their food into squares,
to make the world easier.
You could say this is make-believe:
that the border between what was and what will be
is too absently crossed;
that the songbirds cannot tell night from day,
past from possibility.
Yet how could we live
without the parentheses of beginning and end?
How could we hope
without Time’s punctuation?
We exist in the hair’s-breadth
of the immediate,
creasing the stationery of our years
with birth, death and festival
to mark our place in it.
Let it be so:
to believe in the trivial
is to have a faith
that cannot be shaken.
Let us celebrate this day
not in the illusion that things will change,
or that the spilling over of time’s circle
but in the knowledge
that this day is special
because we share it
with each other.