Thanksgiving, Poetry by Karen A. Valencia


I count the grapevines on the tablecloth,
Twenty-six twine on my side by the broth.
I count the bubbles in the champagne glass
And dread the moment Mom starts to give thanks.
We hold hands to form a shatterproof chain,
I spot the rusty link but I restrain
Myself. I am thankful, I am. Yeah sure.
Dear brother, you’re home, you have found a cure.
Oh, they all stood to kiss you! They don’t smell
The stench of penitentiary, the hell
That you dragged in with the crushed autumn leaves.
A “brand new man” yet I do not believe.
But let’s go around! Why not, let’s have more
Empty chatter. Go on, tell Dad to pour
Us the dessert wine. We can spin like this,
Ignoring the taste of ash and grit.
I smile and nod, try not to bear my teeth.
Our vacuumed rugs hide the dirt underneath.
There’s still some laughter when I rearrange
The pie crumbs into star maps. We exchange
A polite “bless you” when we share a sneeze
But I won’t stretch to look above my knees.
Back then, I swear I thought you to be brave,
We’d tip toe in the dark to stay up late.
But now, a fallen statue cracked by sin,
I finally see your tattooed, human skin.
I cringe with shame as family leaves the room.
A twisted guilt somehow ensnares me too.
Just like these grapevines connecting like dots,
Every year we’ll tangle til’ we rot.
Genre: Life, Society

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