Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Everything before has come to this,
careful settings and a gracious banquet.

We spent the days laying out the plan: roast 
turkey dressed with sage, orange, cloves; sauteed

Brussels sprouts with red onion; bread dressing 
with sausage and thyme; rutabaga (mashed);

cranberry chutney evolved through years of 
family tables. Outside, wet leaves drape 

the earth in colors of roast turkey and 
sweet potatoes. Men gather at the screen

for sports, not news. We’ve had enough of that 
this year, we agree. Aunt brings the sweetened

casserole, different each year. Worries 
of her job, her health, children’s grades and their 

latest misbehaviors, all mask her pride 
in them. They smile indulgently, roll their 

eyes. Mum brings the maligned cream corn, not so 
bad really, but an object of myth. Her 

years of aches and pains are annual sides. 
Uncle brings jokes and cigars, bottle of 

bourbon this year (scotch last), he wears this last
year of age like ten or twenty. Grandma, 

grandpa, and ghosts of all who have made this 
table before evoke unexpected 

memories from the linen and grayed plates. 
At the table prayer is said, wine poured and 

turkey carved, the children dance like powdered
sugar. Thank You for this sacred chaos. 


--c. 2011, by Martin A. Bartels (working draft)

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