Friday, December 31, 2021

Map to a New Year (poem)

 Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit for Carol's Corner for Roundup.

Many of us in this community select One Little Word as a muse, guide, touchstone for the year. My word for 2021 was "Bewilderment," and I reflected on my experience with the word in my most recent Adventures in Ink newsletter. Read it here.

For 2022 I've selected the word WHIMSY.

According to my research, whimsy is something unusual, unexpected, fanciful, playful. I found it in a magazine recently (in photo!), and I read Mary Oliver admonishing herself to be more whimsical in her book of essays Upstream. I also read that the Mona Lisa may have, in fact, been Leonardo's most famous moment of whimsy. Art historians think perhaps he created that face with that smile for his own amusement. (Cool, yes?) The pencil in the photo to the left contains a quote from Little Women: "I like good strong words that mean something." :)

Combine all that with the fact that for years Paul has shaken his head at my sometimes "impetuous" behavior. It's true, I've been known to do things without thinking them through all the way—"on a whim"—and this has sometimes led to heartbreak, disappointment, and tough moments!

But other times my impetuousness has led to some really beautiful moments. And that's what I'm opening myself to this year. Bring on the unexpected, unusual, fanciful, and playful!  

I look forward to reading about everyone else's new One Little Word.

Today marks the last poem of my 2021 ArtSpeak: FOUR SEASONS project. What fun I've had writing through the seasons! I did get a little weary by the end of each season, though... I was ready to move on before the calendar said it was time to do so! (This *might* be a running theme in my life. :) View the entire collection on padlet. And come back next week to see what theme I've chosen for 2022! (I've waffled and waffled, but I think I'm all set now. We'll see!)

Today's poem is inspired by a Mary Cassatt piece that totally makes me think of my sister, and how very grateful I am to have her. We've had some grand adventures over the years!

Map to a New Year

Sometimes it takes two
to find the just-right route.

Mountains insurmountable
by one

yield sweeping vistas
when climbed together.

If we come to a river
too deep, too long—
we'll clasp each other's hands.

Roads will likely stretch,

Some days you will carry me;
other days I will carry you.

- Irene Latham


  1. Beautiful. I did enjoy your newsletter and love your two minute videos. Well done, you. You strike me as an author who continues to blossom. Go, Irene! Look at the inspiration you give to others also. I mention you this week, so does Bridget Magee. Maybe it's that you are a community builder with writing. In any case, Go, Irene go! It's all good. There are things that remind me of my sister too...good poem for this feeling.

  2. Thank god for sisters. I love those last two lines, especially. Congrats on making it through all four seasons, and Happy New Year!

  3. I have a very special and only sister and your poem spoke to me. There is no one like her or anyone who I will ever feel that way about. Your newsletter inspired me and I know with your whimsey there will be much another great year ahead for you and for poetry. Happy New Year, Irene!

  4. Oh, those last two lines are so true. Thank you for your poem and your poems all year through. I love your two-minute writing tips and your newsletter. May 2022 be filled with whimsy! xo

  5. Ah, whimsy is a special word to me, always fun to choose on a whim & often it does turn out to be a lovely thing. Hugs for that, Irene. And I love thinking about your sister and you in the painting & the poem, love "when climbed together". Happy New Year to you & Paul!

  6. We all need more whimsy in our lives! What a great choice, Irene. As for your poem, I also have a dear sister who has often clasped my hand and helped me over rough waters. Your Artspeak series always inspires me. Thank you, and Happy New Year!

  7. Yes, let's "clasp each other's hands" as we go forth into the whimsy of the new year, Irene! Thank you for always inspiring. :)

  8. This poem fits perfectly with my latest adventure with our family. We went to Asheville and stayed in an Airbnb that was literally at the top of a mountain. We relied heavily on each other.
    Your Artspark has been an inspiration for me and for my students. You are so amazingly generous with your words. We all can use a little whimsy in our lives.

  9. Your poem made me cry. My mom passed away two weeks ago, it was a very hard fall. The best thing about it was the time and renewed relationships with my sisters. I'm sending this to them this morning. Thank you! And I can't wait to hear what next year's theme will be! Here's to a year filled with whimsy!

  10. Oh, I want to learn to write to art pieces (I do do this kind of writing but my pieces are much longer) that get at the heart of the idea in just the right words. I tend to do on too long, I fear. This is such a metaphor for why relationships matter. Beautiful, Irene. Thank you for always sharing so much. Janet Clare F.

  11. Irene, it's a pleasure every time to hear your thinkaloud and to follow your (to my eye) rather disciplined whimsy. Thanks for another year of art poetry and, as Janet says, continuing to share so much here at Poetry Friday. Wishing you as much whimsical peace as possible in 2022!

  12. Irene, your poem has beautiful imagery about sisters and a great painting. I love all the stanzas, but these lines are my favorite stanza, "Some days you will carry me; other days I will carry you." Thank you for all of your beautiful poems and your inspiration. Whimsey is a great word; I am looking forward to your poetry and books in 2022! Thank you for sharing your beautiful poetry, so much of yourself, and your inspiration. Happy 2022! :)

  13. We are better together for sure!

  14. What a beautiful and sensitive relationship you share with your sister and in this poem. The world feels very heavy, and I'm happy to hear your olw of whimsey to break through a bit of the weight, enjoy your journey there…


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