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Poetry Friday: A New Year Of Yes

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New Year’s resolutions generally come down to what we will say yes to, and what we will say no to. That’s the focus of this week’s Poetry Friday segment, the first of 2020. KNAU listener Natalie Bryant Rizzieri reads her original poem, A Place of Plenty, as a reminder of the passage of time and what we choose to do with it.

NBR:  I’m going to read a poem I wrote called A Place of Plenty. I wrote that poem, actually, right at the New Year, and I was thinking about time and how, when you reflect on time at the new year especially, I’m struck with this new beginning but then also what’s fallen away.

I have 3 young kids right now. I have a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and I feel like time has moved so much more quickly since loving them and having them. So, I was trying to capture the way that the landscape intersects with the moment. I think that’s a lot of what I try to do in poetry. I try to take the external landscape and the internal landscape and see where they have synchronicity and see where they have tension, and let them speak to one another. So I wrote this poem as kind of an ode to my children and to my life as a mother and to trying to keep those moments and to keep that place of plenty in my consciousness as I moved into a new season.

A Place of Plenty

This morning I watched the run rise

over the ridge – cloud stalker, seed

harbinger. I did not set out to see

the first sunrise of the year but yes.

Yes to bird songs, to leaning hard

against the boulders that split apart.

Yes to their firm devotion to gravity.

Yes to the microbes that transform

rock and soil, slowly. Yes to the arbitrary

blank canvas of a new year. White

on white. Shield of (snow) layers

still to come. Calendars and budgets

lie in wait. All of our deficits are settled.

(If only we could so easily settle our

protections and defenses.) All the

unabashed colors of last year’s sun,

undone. Days undressed, water a sheen,

wants shine unbegged and honest.

Weather patterns here are changing.

By that I mean: pine beetles, apples

most autumns, fallen ponderosas,

monsoons less reckless, wind that rises

and falls the feathers on forest floors.

And for today, snowless: the treble voices

of my children are thus unmuffled,

still mostly transparent, unbidden.

Yes to holding them when they ask

because every week I make a stack

of what they have outgrown as if I

am shedding my own skin. My surface

is raw and wrangled and weathered

though I am no closer to untethered.

Yes to hemming in this wild family.

Yes to not holding back. Yes, I miss

them. Already. Will I wonder

down the long walk of the years

if I could have loved these days more?

It is probably inevitable, but as a charm

against regret, yes to moving slowly,

to keeping our world small,

to remembering that yes is the heart

of each precious no. You see, I want to

ward off this wondering and dwell in joy

so complete it twinges like pain.

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.

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Gillian came to KNAU in 2001 as a freelance reporter. Her first story won an Arizona Associated Press Award. Since then, Gillian has won more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting, writing, editing and documentary work. She served as KNAU’s local Morning Edition anchor for many years before becoming News Director and Managing editor in 2013. When she’s not working, Gillian likes to spend time in the natural world with her dog, Gertie. She is an avid hiker, skier, swimmer, and reader.