It is a day set aside for resolutions
although there is no reason
you cannot make a resolution
any day of your choosing.
Perhaps it is a day for those
resolutions you might not
otherwise make, the bold
or daunting, more likely a day
for the resolutions you know
you will abandon as too hard
or simply utterly impractical.
This year I have resolved not
to engage in the annual ritual,
the annual farce more accurately,
and will achieve a long-held goal
of conceding failure early,
in a new year that will afford
myriad chances to come up short.
And there is a hidden blessing
in my newfound resolve
to swear off resolutions, so
take that old Epimenides.
On this day I will give the cat a bath.
this involves an elaborate ceremony,
as befits an almost unique occasion.
I awaken at the usual hour, perform
my usual bathroom ritual, to the mirth
of the cat who curls up on the dirty
laundry in the basket in the closet.
I dice the pear, slice the banana,
pluck and carefully rinse the grapes,
then slather on the plain Greek yogurt,
and a large tablespoon of granola.
I carefully peanut butter one and a half
slices of multigrain toast, each with a dollop
of No Sugar Added strawberry jam
and make my cortado, on the foamy side.
It is time, now, for the main event,
and I fill the tub with warm water, pick up
the cat, and soon bandage my bloody arms.
The pelican hasn’t been around
for a couple of days, and we miss
his akimbo dives into the pond,
surfacing and throwing his head back
to show he’s swallowing his catch
even though we suspect some of the time
he caught nothing at all, but knowing
we’re as gullible an audience
as he is likely to find any time soon.
We hope he is off breeding somewhere,
making little pelicans that will
be able to entertain us next fall
when we return, birds of our own sort,
not snowy egrets but snow birds nonetheless.
We don’t want to know any more
about the mating ritual, some
things ought to be private.
We learned that painful a few years
ago, when my brother thought it
was important we see thoroughbreds bred.
We prefer our breedings like
good French films, suggestive
but ultimately leaving it
to our memory, like so much of our youth.
She is a small woman
dressed in white, save for black
platform slingback pumps
and cherry red eyeglass frames.
She hunches forward in her seat
seeming as though she might collapse,
pouring over tables and graphs –
biochemical research papers.
You measure the depth of her attention
by the frequency with which she pulls
single strands of hair from her banded ponytail,
strokes them gently, then, as if noticing they
have gone astray, tries to tuck them back in.
She pauses this ritual only to annotate
the paper’s margins in mechanical pencil
in a small, cramped hand, barely legible.
You know she has reached the paper’s conclusion
when she strokes that soft space
between those in upper lip
as though a teenage boy hoping
one day soon to grow a mustache.