FATHER TIME AND BABY NEW YEAR
There he goes, toddling off-stage
with that gnarled scythe resting
crosswise a sash in last year’s fashion,
his dripstone beard, his great
nose like a pilgrim’s plough-blade.
And here comes his successor—
a drooling infant dressed in a top hat
and star-spangled diaper,
blissfully unaware how he will age
three months each day in office.
Father Time could say something.
He could warn the poor toddler
of the need to arm himself,
to get a handle on more than his bowels
if he wants to hold this mess together.
But Baby New Year just grins
like a pacifist and the old man departs,
yielding at last his gothic hourglass
of sand made from the bones
of dinosaurs, sea cows, Babylonians—
all that expires under Time’s watch.
Meanwhile, the Dutch launch fireworks,
the Greeks bake coins in cakes,
Japanese monks ring temple bells
and the Scots gift coal and shortbread.
But here, we Americans just kiss
and kiss while that old drama plays out
on confetti-fogged billboards,
the tips of noisemakers blaring up one
strangled, universal note to the sky.