from Swing Time by Zadie Smith


But don’t you realize how incredibly lucky you are, she said, to be alive, at this moment? p 310

If I am honest,

the moment I reflect upon the most from the past year

was the day our dog died.

I still see her paws on the yellow blanket

the vet had spread out to make her comfortable.

My husband and I held her, and cried all the tears.

We cried in remembrance of all that we’d done together,

unable to imagine moving into our new home without her.

Yet here we are now,

having celebrated our first Christmas without her in these rooms.

I’m sitting in the kitchen, lingering

in that limboish place between the end of one year

and the beginning of another.

Two dogs curled at my feet.

I am looking back at all of the losses we have suffered this year.

As I think about those tears,

I remember that there were happy ones too.

The relief and delight we felt when we signed the paperwork for our first home.

The joy that surrounded us as our friends serenaded us during the kazoo parade,

after we renewed our wedding vows.

Joy and pain, beauty and grief.

Each bleeding into the other.

Mixing, melding, ultimately indistinguishable.

With no clear defined boundaries or dimensions.

Each is best viewed from a distance.

Like now.

December offers a clear view of January on the horizon.

Now that we are at the end,

I can see that each year feels like a journey because it is.

We put one foot out and move forward.

Wobbly and tentative, some days.

Surefooted on others.

Then there are the days when all we can do is crawl.

Lately that’s all I can do.

This cold has penetrated my brain

and left me dizzy and unclear.

But I see that I have managed to write some words.

My screen is no longer blank. I have made a mark.

And once the new year rolls round,

I will make my offering.

Pleased for the chance to begin again.

A fresh start, blanketed in soft, white snow—

Which will soon be covered in boot tracks and paws,

after we bundle up to head out for our daily walk.

There is joy and comfort in all our daily doings,

even if we no longer see them when we look back.

These are the quiet, invisible acts

that buoy us up in the between times.

3 thoughts on “from Swing Time by Zadie Smith

  1. I would definitely recommend it, though I read everything she writes. This is a real investigation of family and place and position and the way friendships interweave throughout one’s life. The main character is such an observer and keeps such a distance, that I found myself wanting just a bit more. I think Zadie is a fabulous writer, but I’m finding I’m leaning a little more towards her non-fiction in recent years. I’d love to know what you think about it when you finish.

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