Letter to the Old Year by Kat Gardiner
Editor Matty Byloos, Letters, January 18th, 2017
"2016, I've never been so scared or so fearless."
Last night I had a dream, and in it, we were still laughing.
The world — destroyed. The ice storm — moving in. Us, goners — we were still laughing.
2016, you terrible year, it will never be as good as you again, will it?
There is looming and there is grace.
My only daughter was born to you, 2016, breathless and blue while I bled out naked on the table. Heartbeat down below my age. Every mother knows that birth is really death. Dying. That every mother is a Jesus, a sacrifice for innocence. My love from within me, a literal part of me, torn out.
I wanted to name her after the moon. She illuminated the room with a soft light, hair the underside of feathers, crystalline water eyes. But instead we named her Smokey after the burn of visible air.
She was born inside you, 2016, full of kindness and joy, and you a year full of neither. 2016, you gave us death. The only hope you gave us was the hope to not grow hopeless. Then you gave me something so new. Universal amidst the division.
2016, I’ve never been so scared or so fearless.
Fallen state of trust. Fallen state. Redrawn maps and uncounted hands. If we all voted, love would have won. I know it. If it was fair, sanity would have reigned.
Instead, it was hate. But the weak only inherit the earth when the strong have wrung it out. The good only triumph when they show up.
My rant. Real rant. Real fear. Our planet. It’s finite. There is only so much. But it’s everything we have.
The world will kill us all if we’re not careful, and we are not careful.
Loose cannon. Hot head. Homicidal maniac with tiny hands grasping for our purses and our pussies. Everything we know can crumble and fade. We are not immune. I’m spiraling out, long nights sweaty sleep. Nightmares of blizzards and tidal waves, bombs and secret police, camps unseen and my baby dying, or worse. Turned against me, towards fear and hate.
There is apocalypse on the edge of things and hopelessness in the wind and yet.
The sun shines, the rain drops, my baby smiles in the visible air. Still the world goes on. Love and beauty and goodness remain love and beauty and goodness.
2017, we are strong. I know that. Those of us, the majority of us, we will battle lose war win.
But 2016, dear 2016, you are still beautiful in all your awfulness. You broke the news but you haven’t broken us. We who love will not stop loving.
2017, the world will not end, even if humanity does. She is strong and she’s a fighter.
Us goners? We’re going to keep on laughing.
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Header image courtesy of Haley Craw. To view her artist feature, go here.
Kat Gardiner writes and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, her baby and her cat. Currently, the skylight is gray. She studied writing at Bennington College and in a basement with Tom Spanbauer. Her work has appeared in Vice, NAILED, Tiny Mix Tapes and elsewhere.