(nablopomo #24) the gratitude one

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
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.

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