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For the New Babies of the Millennium

Author John Cech
Air Date 1/3/2000
Happy New Year Typography with Fireworks in Night Sky

For the New Babies of the Millennium Transcript

In Japan, during the first days of the new year, the Kakizome festival takes place; it’s is dedicated to putting the first marks on paper for the new year, and it’s become an occasion for Japanese children to demonstrate their grasp of traditional calligraphy. The practice itself began centuries ago in temple schools where, among other things, the art of calligraphy was taught. One was expected to write something mindfully beautiful on paper–a poem or a resolution for the year–something important to set the tone for the coming months.

For most of us the first mark that’s put on paper about us is our name–something that sets a tone, in some cases, for lifetime. Here’s a poem for all those new millennium babies, who have just been named.

Koren, Omar and Maryann
Cynthia, Tomasz, Charlemagne,
Florio, Koji and Philippa–
An angel gives us each our name.

Sometimes she sends it in a dream
Or on the wind
Or in the rain.
Sometimes she keeps it may years
A shining leaf on the family tree:
Abraham, Petra, or Timothy.

Sometimes she knows by a baby’s gurgle
Or how she kicks before she’s born.
“That’s Anna,” she says,
“Ready to dance.
And that’s Kofi
Doing a back somersault,
And Liang the poet
Ready to rhyme.”

And sometimes she whsipers it
In our mother’s ear:
“Carlos, Fatima, Guinevere.”

Or let’s Papa hear it
While he’s making a chair:
“Abduallah, Rosie, Esperanza, Pierre.”

We don’t know how she does it,
but each name fits just so:
Maya or Elvis or Meiku,
Benjamin or Yanee
Abigail or, simply, Joe.

Posted in Holidays, Poetry