It’s 5:30, and we’re in the midst of preparing a last-minute big meal to take over to a friend’s place — she and her daughter have roast beef and a bunch of sides; we’re bringing chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. Of course we’re running late. So there’s just a bit of time for a blog.
I’ve been reluctant, all day, to get here and be faced with the prospect of the obligatory gratitude post. I have nothing against gratitude posts, per se — it’s the ones on Thanksgiving that leave me a little curdled, sometimes: the way and the why we’re meant to be so grateful on this day, to be public in our gratitude. A national day of thanks for or draped over this history of genocide — this now of genocide.
I shared this poem at the Writing the Flood workshop over the weekend, and again on facebook today. I can’t get enough of it. This is the truth of our complication:
|by W. S. Merwin|
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it smiling by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is
On this day I sit with the cognitive dissonance of horror and desire: I am grateful, and I am despondent. Today we went to the ocean, and I was grateful. I miss my family, and don’t see a way through to them. I mourn the devastation our country has wrought, and continues to impose on other people, on our own people. And I walk into the night grateful for you, for your words, for these words, for our possibility, and how we reach for it, over and over, anyway.