“i am running into a new year”

For many of us, September feels like a fresh start — even more than January. Regardless of age, September signals the start of a new school year and calls to mind the anticipation and hope that go hand in hand with new teachers and clean notebooks. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, also starts in September. Here, in the northern hemisphere, the long days of summer are shortening reminding us that all beginnings inevitably include endings. Today’s energetic poem by Lucille Clifton speaks to how we can look forward and backward at the same time, feeling excitement for the new as well as some sadness about what we must leave behind.

i am running into a new year

i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what i said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen and
twentysix and thirtysix
even thirtysix but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

—Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

This short poem, with no punctuation, can be read in one breath giving us the experience of rushing forward while we consider the past. Give it a try.

What are you running toward this fall? What are you embracing? Maybe the image of running doesn’t resonate. Maybe you’re crawling into the new year, or gardening, cleaning, or designing. Pick a verb that accurately expresses your experience and begin writing from there. “I am ________________ into the new year.”

What do you need to leave behind in order to make room for something new? This poem reminds us of the importance of self-compassion and forgiveness in the face of change.


“i am running into a new year” by Lucille Clifton, Good Woman: Poems and A Memoir 1969-1980, 1987. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.

Photo: Seasons of Change from Cornerstone Counseling and Consulting


  1. I must have reread this poem 15 times since the post. And shared it with several close friends. They all said, “2020 is transformational” – in whatever ways that might be, good or bad. I never thought about September as the new January but it is so true, at least for me (I do start a new circle around the sun in mid august after all). Summers is when I switch continents – leaping from one culture to another and back – which always causes a lot of reflections, recalibration, and rebalancing. So lots to think about there. The lines “and i beg what i love / and
    i leave to forgive me” particularly resonate this year. Thanks, Patti.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am skipping into the new year. And I mean that literally! Not because the past year has been so full of glee (C19 and other world events have done a fairly decent job in stomping out any lighthearted glee) nor because I am so confident the coming year will be so much better. No, I am skipping into the new year as a new form of exercise! On one of my recent runs around the local track, on a whim I started to skip instead of jog. And it was so fun! I’m sure I looked ridiculous, but it made me feel a bit like a carefree kid again — and who could not appreciate that under these current circumstances. I later did some research online and learned that skipping is great exercise: better on the knees and a bit more of a whole body workout compared to running. After recovering from a few days of soreness, skipping is now a regular part of my routine. So don’t be surprised if you see a 50-something bearded bald guy skipping down the street! (And join me if you do! I guarantee it will put a smile on your face!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Skipping! Yes, Gary, Let’s bring skipping back. (Skip this year of COVID? Skip that nasty comment? That bothersome worry?). Skipping embodies the carefree cadence of childhood, when we were truly joyful, living in the moment, like the animals and flowers. We need that now to heal our spirits, and carry us thru.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your introduction including the Jewish New Year. We will work hard to honor the holiday in spite of the restrictions. It might be a good year to send cards that remind us to find the sweetness in life (as is a common

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Patti. I look forward to the poems and your comments, or introductions. I hope you are well despite the pandemic and the crazy times. Stay safe, mary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am tiptoeing into the new year. I chose the word tiptoeing for a couple of reasons. One being will I be forced to lose my job temporarily again due to the pandemic? Will my daughter actually have a wedding reception? Too many unknowns that’s why I say tiptoeing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dianne–
      Not so much about the poem, but wishing your daughter well. As Patti knows, my daughter’s wedding plans changed because of the pandemic. I wasn’t able to be there and yet it was wonderful. Wishing you joy.

      Liked by 1 person

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