Friday, November 28

Thanksgiving Table

At the head, my grandfather,
the sharp protrusions of his elbows
taking too much room; my brother
kicking the table leg, as if
a faster beat could speed up time;
my mother, wan-faced from her vigil
over pots; grandma muttering
rude asides under her breath;
and the space beside me
where my father
                             used to sit,
close to the kitchen door, so that he
could lean far back in his chair
to fit us in his camera's frame.
All of us, the plates, cups, cornbread,
turkey steeped in all its trimmings,
even the dog, held upright, squirming
had its place. All that he loved,
compressed. He held that camera
like a sleeping child;
it gained weight in his palm, became
a measure of what one man's life
can hold,
                and then let fall. The years
slide under us, but this day hangs
frozen: the table stacked with food,
our smiles opening
toward him like hands.

-- Ayelet Amittay