Alayna Munce

New Year's Eve

Beloved is the time of pruning.
All the kisses will be given that you could not give.
The pomegranates are in bloom.
All love is a rehearsal for death.
- Ernesto Cardinal



On the highway a pickup truck passes her, its bed packed with antlers.  Something in her chest stands up as it passes.  Hunting season.  Truckbed bristling with the bone-still fork-lightning of antlers. 

If I never say what's hurting her you can fill in the blank with your own hurt. 

How to resist?  Everything from warplanes arrayed around oilfields to her own small stockpile of bitterness.  News flash on the car radio--not the first item, but not the last either--the Pope has added five mysteries to the rosary.   Five new mysteries to go with the old ones, the joyful mysteries and the sorrowful mysteries.  The new set has to do with Jesus' public life.  What will they call them?  She turns down the volume.  The arcane laws of insider trading, seeds engineered to be round-up ready, the epidemic in Africa seeping wider daily, a stain on all of us, warplanes arrayed around oilfields and an announcement from the Vatican.

Turns out they called them the luminous mysteries. 

On New Year's Eve she and her husband host a bonfire up north.  Wafts of woodsmoke chase her with a trickster intellegence.  Snow creaks underfoot, each step ratcheting her to the present.  A darting squirrel triggers the dog's hackles.  Someone hands out noisemakers.  It occurs to her that the minute after midnight will feature the same bonfire, same starless sky, same heartache as the minute before.  No matter how much noise they make together as the clock hands align and point to the heavens, when the hands fall apart there will still be the same mute grappling, same personalities huddled round the flames gripping plastic cups half-full of cheap champagne, same warplanes arrayed around oilfields, same troops at the ready.  The hackles of the dog are still up.  The betrayed are still bitter.   The dead still dead.

She goes to bed half-drunk, disappointed, so much adrenaline in her limbs she must be at war. Troops at the ready.  If only

she could locate the frontline.  



In her dream that night she opens her mouth (to yawn? apologize? say goodbye?) and all the voices of resistance on the planet come streaming out, almost erasing her.  It's a sound like summer-dusk crickets buzzing in the bleachers of the darkness, rhythmic.  When she awakes every cell in her body is swimming upstream, her borders for a moment more porous.  She turns her head, looks at the stranger in her bed, the one she calls lover.  The voices from her dream receding but still close enough to whisper in her ear, resist.  Resist the temptation to hunker in a grudge.  

The front line, she thinks, is where you wake up.  Start here, she thinks.  Joyful mysteries in one fist, sorrowful ones in the other.  She can feel herself surrendering, stepping out into no-man's land.   Antlers unlocking, riding off, each on the ghost of its own animal.  The only atmosphere that allows time to deepen instead of just pass

is forgiveness.  The only way to step through into the next moment
changed. She stirs, puts her mouth to the ear beside her, whispers,

      Happy New Year.