My house is full of people. Not everyone is here yet, and not everyone will make it, but it’s still full of people—sleeping in on a cold Thanksgiving morning. My house is grandmother’s house—the horse knows the way—how could it be any better.
This morning Michelle posts the things she’s grateful for, and among them her family of poets, artist, and friends. I have those too.
I have sweet potatoes to skin, a pre cooked turkey to warm, have already made pear cobbler using the pears from my tree. The girls are making everything else. I get on the scales this morning and realize I’ve already gained ten pounds in anticipation. I sigh.
Coffee is brewing. I take a breath.
My cousin’s daughter is worse than thought. I’m very close to losing her, my cousin writes me. I know you and Bruce understand. We do, I write her back. I whisper a prayer. Do you believe in prayers. I pray, he answers. But do you believe the narrative changes—Once, he says. Only once. But once carries a certain weight.
I sip my coffee and worry over the world. I look out my window and watch the sun creating the morning. All this goes on, the poet whispers. At least for awhile, a billion years or so. Knowing the sun will rise tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow is enough for now. I pour my coffee.
I look at a photograph on our dining room wall, the first thanksgiving family photograph we took thirty four years ago. Grandmother’s house was my mother’s house then. Two of my children were yet to be born—two of my nieces, but the rest of the clan was there. Since then we pose every thanksgiving, the cast of characters continually changing. Five in the original cast have died. The photographs are no longer about my mother’s family with my siblings, nieces, and nephews, but more about mine. Since the original picture I have gained two more daughters, three son-in-laws, another boyfriend who might become one, four grandchildren—the fat Buddha reminds me that all life is change. I float with it.
I sip my coffee. I want to tell you how much I love you, how I remember as much as I can—not to hold onto some kind of past, but just to dance in the music of it. Each moment a gift, even if my feet hurt.
Do you believe in God, the angel whispers in my ear. Yes, but I don’t know what that means. Still, I pray—sometimes not so softly or compliantly. Couldn’t you do any better than this, I have been known to complain—when ugly seems to have the upper hand in everything. When goons seem to have sway. When good people suffer and die. When I have to listen to preachers say we are all sinners who deserve hell. No we don’t, I yell. We don’t deserve hell. We were made to be who we are—
But then I take a breath and look at the sunrise. Listen to the birds. Sip my coffee. And realize I wouldn’t really change all this. I love this gift of breath. I love you. I am the happiest man alive, stealing the line from Miller.