The year 2020 has passed so quickly. It means I have not noticed that the New Year is here already. Even if it is just a promise made between people or that the meaning of the promise has weakened, January 1 is an important day in the calendar. But this January 1 was a bit awkward. It was not easy to share New Year’s greetings in a celebratory mood. New Year’s Day is the day we make new resolutions and promises instead of worrying, ‘Will this year be better than the last?’ When the meaning of something we are familiar with falls apart, we get flustered and anxious.
Just like you drink ginger tea when you feel like coming down with a cold, it is nice to read poems that make you strong when your world is falling apart. Just like you add a layer of clothes to keep you warm, it is nice to read a poem that makes you warm when you feel uneasy. This poem is a sweet, healthy one you want to read on New Year’s Day even though there is no word “New Year” in it. It is titled “Leaning a Broomstick against the Wall” by the poet Shin Hyun-jeong.
It seems the poet moved to a house with a garden from an apartment. He is sweeping the garden with a broomstick early in the morning. It is a simple and easy chore, but cleaning is a pleasant thing to do. After you finish it, both your mood and the floor get refreshed. But the reason I chose this poem is not because of the garden or cleaning. It is because the repeated phrase in the poem, “It’s been a while” is the one we have been longing to say in the past months. We want to meet nice people, have a hug, pat on each other’s back, and say, “It’s been a while.” We want to see smiles on their faces and have a big smile as well. It’s been a while. We want to walk shoulder to shoulder in a crowded street. It’s been a while since we had that freedom.