Laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite,
pumpkin pie crowned in whipped cream,

aunts and uncles linger, trade stories,
fresh baked comfort hangs in the air.

A cousin complements the cook on the giblet dressing
and sweet potatoes baked in butter and cinnamon.

Expected births, upcoming graduations, promise of new jobs,
tales of the buck that got away, and the one that didn’t

dominate the room, loud and free, drown out whispers
of jobs lost and illness survived, and not survived.

But these are only memories of a childhood
before parents passed from this world, family meals forgotten.

Memories of holy eucharist when we brimmed
with turkey and dressing and a moment of belonging.

Broken bodies continue to move through time
away from the blanket of the past.

Bonds forged in shared blood
not enough to moor us in the outgoing tide.

Perhaps these memories will mock us, chattering squirrels,
before fleeing, sheltering from winged shadow of the future

to return when danger has passed
and, in hushed stillness of deep night, remind us

what has been lost, of the simple sanctity
of lunch with friends and conversation over a cup of coffee.


Note: The first line of this poem (italicized above) is the final line of the poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here” by Joy Harjo.

©2023 Kenneth W. Arthur