I'm heading into a Thanksgiving week chockful of riches: I'm intending to be in an evening "gratitude" sweat lodge, followed by a friend's birthday celebration; the kids are coming home; Oakley's friend Kayla is arriving from Chicago; my in-laws are coming over; Flan and I are preparing the feast; I'll be consuming that feast, then cleaning up after that feast (with plenty of help from the co-consumers, mind you); then we have one of the year's busier weekends at the gallery beginning the Friday after Turkey Day.
I am feeling overwhelmed, and in the very best way. Rather than write something new to express what's within, I'll post a poem I wrote several years back for my friend A (initial changed). She had hit a particularly rough patch in a life that had been particularly rough by almost anyone's standards. In respect of her privacy, I don't want to reveal that much. I'll just say she's a woman of daunting gifts who's experienced equally daunting setbacks.
Many, many years ago I published a fair amount of poetry in respected literary magazines. When I sent this poem "Cornucopia" to A, she showed up, out of the blue, at the gallery and gave me a hug whose warmth I can still feel. "You know more about me than I do," she said, "and that's good." That was better to hear than any acceptance letter I ever got from any editor of a literary magazine.
When I was younger, my poems were of the lean, mean, sculpted variety. The older I get, my poems, like their author's body, are succumbing to middle age spread. This one could definitely be thinned down, but hey, it's Thanksgiving week! This week's all about excess, and I simply do not have time to wield a blue pencil.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who will be observing the holiday. Itemize those blessings in your personal cornucopia. Take stock, and express the proper gratitude. Whatever you do, remember to shine, and know that you shine.
for A, who’s ready for more
While you were sleeping, a prosperity elf rolled back the odometer
in your battered, army green Volkswagen van.
When you wake up, that cream puff, like magic,
will have been driven eighty-eight miles in 18 years.
As you slept, a crew of grease angels descended in coveralls.
One of them, who looked a little like your father,
stuck his head under the hood
and topped off the fluid levels with Dom Perignon.
From now on you are entitled:
to Happy Hour 24/7.
Another of the celestial mechanics, the dreamy-eyed one, got busy
hefting a large aluminum hammer.
He began plumping out the bashed-in driver’s door
with marshmallow Bondo,
siphoned down from cumulus clouds.
As you slept, mischievous cherubs, holding funnels,
smiled down on you from that great detail shop in the sky.
Still another worker, who resembled your great-great-grandfather,
rolled under the engine.
Stretched out on one of those little wheeled contraptions,
he replaced your master cylinder
with a system of pie tins and miniature pulleys
connected by a spider’s thread to your future.
From now on, you will know just where you are going.
Even as you were sleeping, the new car smell drifted from the parking lot
and into your nostrils. You sighed.
Now you were in the driver’s seat, your hands on the wheel.
An enormous stretch of fresh blacktop waited to be traveled.
You heard the engine turn over.
You turned on the lights, looked into the rearview,
and saw the back of your father’s head disappearing into the stars.
While you were sleeping, an enchanted plumber,
with a crooked smile just like your younger son’s,
tiptoed into your bathroom. Lifting your tank lid,
he made subtle adjustments in the attitude of your float ball.
The next time you flush,
you will look down and observe the faces of ex-husbands
made palpable, going down.
The faces of husbands
will spin round and round.
The faces of husbands,
with a slurping sound,
will spin counterclockwise,
and under the ground.
Each night, as you lie down to dream,
your sorrows, like so many digested meals, will begin their journey
down 13 miles of pasteboard pipes.
13 miles of pasteboard pipes,
a thirteen-circuit, glittering spiral, a sorcerer’s path of glitter and glue
dreamed by 13 wizards who resemble you.
Even now, as you are dreaming,
wee alchemists, just beneath your bathroom tiles,
have begun to whirl away your sorrows with miniature rotors.
While you sleep, your troubles turn into dollar bills,
meringue pies, lucky pennies, new wheels, amazing sex.
Little wizards cast their spell,
wave their wands at your gates of hell:
Cast your sorrows down a paper chute.
Abracadabra! Presents to boot!
A small naked fertility god has risen
from a trap door on the dark side of your brain.
In place of a cock, he has a horn of plenty,
and he is dancing a little fertility dance,
back and forth, over your corpus callosum.
He spills his blessings, this way and that,
into the dark rivers of your dreaming hemispheres.
Allow please, your closed eyes to dance back and forth.
Follow with your eyes the movements of your fertility god. Back
Imagine that your eyes are connected by spider threads to the future.
Your eyes moving can move the future.
Moving your future can move the past. The past moves back,
and forth to the future.
Now dance with your future. Dance
with your past.
Imagine please, a small cornucopia that spins in front of your eyes.
This cornucopia is your present.
You make it spin by being still and opening your eyes.
Now open your eyes please.
Watch your cornucopia spin.
Spin it please, and don’t move just yet.
Don’t close your eyes until your prizes spill out.
sorcerers’ caps, cups
of lucky pennies,
pieces of pie to go around.
One for you.
One for you.
And one for you.
Peace, gossamer threads,
new car smells,
of fresh blacktop,
boyfriends who can drive it.
Yes! One for you!
in the rearview,
in the sideview.
they look like you.
from any mirror,
You’re shining too.
Like a penny
Can you see