From Issue 52: A Poem by Laura Villareal

New Year 2021

by Laura Villareal


I end 2020 with my car battery drained,
the tank empty of gas. The metaphor

a violent laziness. The pandemic
doesn’t end at the collapse of midnight,

but something like hope & dread
flourish when I wake to a new year

with the same face. I’ve held
every end in my life the same way,

leaving many mooned
nail marks, so when I let go

I weep. Ugly monsoon. Disaster,
more often than not, is man-made.

A dear friend tells me to imagine the first day
after the pandemic ends so I can free myself

from orbiting isolation. Like a fool,
I think of simple things:

sitting in a coffeeshop all afternoon.
Taking my mom to a nice restaurant,

my dad to a West Texas observatory.
I could do these now

but I trust caution more than faith.
On this first day, what I want most,

is to drive my beloved through the desert
until it turns to citrus trees.

I want to see him face
California’s toothy sun & roll in

the green grass of his father’s yard,
arms stretched like a victory.



Laura Villareal is the author of Girl’s Guide to Leaving (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022). She has received fellowships from the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and National Book Critics Circle. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, American Poetry Review, Waxwing, AGNI, and elsewhere.