Ellen Doré Watson
The Year to Come

Prairie dog, totem pole, cluster of grapes: do we choose our omens 

or they us? I think I see tunnels, painted faces turning wooden, 

dew on each perfect globe. (Industry, artifice, sexlovefood?) 

I see the way we're speeding up and they're breaking down. 

This year on its way to us on greased rails your father will die 

and my mother will worsen. A year faces forward like a paper doll 


but all the color's on the back side. Which is worse: 

that he will die again next year and the year after or that she will


sliding and sliding? I see a piano in yawning stillness, then a


whose music fills the house. A glassed aviary circled by wheel chairs. 

I will light small fires to thaw the slippery slope. Steep I can handle 

and dirty. The solace of sweaty work and lemonade. Our bodies 


will become mirrors, heaving to the same hurt. This we can like, 

and how our centerpiece gives off light, our good fruit. I keep seeing 

that kitten mothered by Roxie the Great Dane. I keep smelling that 


room after room of TV noise and withered hands dabbing at eyes 

    no one wants 

to look into really. A year is like a fortune cookie and do you have to 

    eat it, 

every bit, for it to come true? Spun sugar folded around the outcome 

    but where 


has Confucius gone - nowadays only flattery and your lucky numbers                 

     in a red 

string. Just like a new girlfriend, you keep thinking you've got to 


each year is prettier than all the ones before. I'm keeping my eyes 

    out for 

the perfect early warning system, a wooden remembrance, anything 


This year niece number three will tiptoe—we will this to be so—


survival, relearning to take, eat, this food is broken for you, for 

    you not 


to be broken, even if your mother binds more than your feet. There is 

    so much 

we don't know. I'm thinking we should wear our welcoming faces so

     the year 


can slip into us whatever way it wants to. Like the night somebody 


two-year-old found the way from his private dark to our unfamiliar 


in his parents' bed, blinked at us, puzzled, and then decided to close 

    his eyes, burrow 

a place between us - his warm, unexpected weight - that kind of gift. 

Found In Volume 27, No. 05
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  • Ellen Doré Watson
Ellen Doré Watson
About the Author

Ellen Doré Watson’s collection Ladder Music won the New York/New England Award from Alice James.  She directs the Poetry Center at Smith College and serves as an editor of The Massachusetts Review.