Friday, January 2, 2009

Poetry Friday: Reprint

I'm not up to full blogging speed, but I hate to miss Poetry Friday.  I hope you'll forgive me if I re-post a January-themed poem here. I first shared this one in July, which was wildly seasonally inappropriate.  A link to it is there in my sidebar, under "This is why I write" (referring to my inaugural post.) Jama also blogged about it last December, so it's not like the poem has been under-exposed.  

It's just that as the new year begins, I need to see the corners of my room again. 

The Bones of January

I love the plainness of January

when I have taken down my Christmas

finery, and in the shock

of my home stripped bare, I see

the corners of my rooms

again. And outside, all is

stark, gray, glorious

with no false beauty to help me

pretend that I am satisfied.

In January, I kneel beside my children’s

sleeping faces, and let them break

the leafless branches

that cage my chest.

And outside, all is

undone. Roots rend

the earth like bones.

How did this happen?

That all should be taken


and that love,

love should be plain

as January?

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)


  1. YES. You read my mind. I was going to go find this poem and re-read it. I think of it every January. It's one of my favorites. Thank you thank you.

  2. Thanks for reposting the beautiful bones. It's my favorite poem to start the year off, too. Happy 2009!

  3. I love the imagery,
    the subtle
    January, finery rhyme, and the outside/inside dichotomy

  4. This is the poem with which we were "introduced," the first post I read on your blog, and thus, the reprint is like meeting you all over again.

    I love the realization that stripping away the frippery disallows us to pretend. Love it...

  5. This is beautiful, Sara. Thank you. I was just thinking today how deliciously clean it will feel to "take down" my Christmas Stuff.

  6. I love living liturgical seasons, and love all my Christmas finery, but when it's time to take it down, I always think of my best friend's grandfather, who used to say of houseguests, "Happy to see you come ... happy to see you go." :-)

    Great poem, Sara.

  7. About fifteen years ago, in the fall, my father was terminally ill. I watched the trees stripped of their lives, and I watched the "stuff" (money, job, prestige etc.) stripped from my dad's life. When all the stuff was gone, you could see the beauty underneath. At that point, I thought, "I better work a lot harder at the underneath, because that stuff shows when everything else is taken away. This poem reminds me of that. It's beautiful! I love the last few lines, with love as plain as January.

  8. Yes, January does seem so plain after all the holiday fluff is gone! Great poem!

  9. Sara, you could repost this on a weekly basis and I wouldn't get tired of it. It's astounding.

    In January, I kneel beside my children’s

    sleeping faces, and let them break

    the leafless branches

    that cage my chest.

    That's the stanza that does me in. The leafless branches/cage/ribs--all encasing the heart--are nothing against the love we feel. No weapon, no defense against our vulnerability.

    This one stops me in my tracks, Sara. Keep repeating!

  10. I love the idea of a bare and stripped down January! But mine is much different--what with Christmas books and birthday books, my house in January is a maze of teetering piles for which there is no room on the already full shelves...


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