Poem: Two Days After Thanksgiving

Two Days After Thanksgiving.

Even as a young man, I listened to the old people’s stories.
I listened to their songs. I could hear the blues
in their spoken word, the unsaid darknesses.

There was a truth in their voices. An authenticity
I recognized. I discovered, without knowing it,
that the greatest truths are often left unsaid

and that magic sang the blues without words,
in a flickered brow, a crinkle of the eye,
a crack in the voice.

And here I am with my own broken line of a life.
And I understand their reticence to spill it all.
Some darknesses can be sung, and some deserve

their own silence. To be left alone to die quietly,
or as a dim spice to temper the rest of your story,
and make it less bright, and more real.

It is two days past thanksgiving and you are melancholy.
No less thankful. Not that. I have wandered through
the wilderness a time or few, enough to recognize

the oasis that surrounds me. It is green and lush.
As you look through the window at winter,
you smile. No matter that it is a sad smile, it is warm.

That is what aging in honesty does to you.
Few things are left pure. Everything is tainted
by the strange mixture of people’s pain and purity.

In the middle of the night, you hear her breathe.
You feel her warmth. This is all you have left
that is unalloyed, still pure. And even in your

midnight pain. You rejoice.
Your melancholy lifts, if only for a while.

About this poem.

A good, if small, Thanksgiving. A rough night responding to my treatments. It’s always the nights when the mind wanders to its dark places.

I am so grateful for my wife sometimes, it brings me to tears.


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