Last year, I shared my favorite Thanksgiving book with you. This year, I have my favorite poem of the season. It’s not really about the holiday, but it kindles in me a visceral reminder of the Thanksgivings of my childhood.
I would leave the house after dinner to walk the dog, to get away from the heat and the noise and the people. The houses I passed would be lit up, but on mute – all festivities contained, windows tightly shut. This was long before cell phones, of course, and I cherished the emptiness of the town, my only company a snuffling fifty-pound mutt terrier. With her, I felt safe enough to stay out until my fingers froze, shoulders hunched against the bitter New England night.
It was rare to meet another person, or even to see a car pass. I never brought my Walkman with me then either; I wanted, for once, to listen to the wind exhaling through the trees. It felt good to let the weight of the day lift off of me, to transform into a shadow for an hour before returning to the family and food I was lucky enough to have.
Turkeys, Galway Kinnell
Sometimes we saw shadows of gods
in the trees; silenced, we went on.
Sometimes the dog would bound off
over the snow, into the forest.
Sometimes a tree had twenty
or more black turkeys in it, each
seeming the size of a small black bear.
We remember them for their care
for their kind ever since we watched the big hen
in the very top of the tree shaking
load after load of apples down to the flock.
Sometimes I felt I would never
come out of the woods, I thought
its deeper darkness might absorb me
or feed me to the black turkeys
and I would cry out for the dog
and the dog would not answer.