They enter the catering hall somewhere on Main Street in a
small New Jersey town where movie theatres once gave out
Ivory Flakes with every double-feature ticket. They recall
this, laugh at their youthful antics, their safety, Schwinns
left outside on the sidewalk, then picked up as the afternoon
waned, the sun a rare reach in the dead of December. Once
inside the hall, they find Table Ten, assigned when they’d
bought tickets months before, eager for the chicken dinner
and a splash of pink champagne to mark the cusp of the old
year, to welcome the new year with hope. They join other
merry-makers, noisemakers at the ready, balloons as centerpiece
markers. The emcee tells old jokes, the deejay plays songs from
their glory days. They lindy, twist and shout, sciatica be damned,
return to their places, ready for the twelve o’clock countdown.
There! It begins: Ten, Nine, Eight Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three,
Two One—HAPPY NEW YEAR! Toots on the horns, confetti
all around, kisses to welcome another year, inner thanks to
a Being somewhere in the periphery. Dessert comes, then
a drive home. No fear of dark highways, lunacy on wheels
that makes statistics, after all it’s still light out, this celebration
ended at noon.
This poem first appeared in Edison Literary Review.
Used here with permission.