Thank You

a Thanksgiving Day poem

 

Thank you, Mike’s Body Shop for fixing our mini-van’s lift gate so that it no longer hits my wife in the back as she loads groceries and buckets of paint.

 

Thank you, One-eyed Willy, you old rapscallion with both your treasure and your traps.

 

Thank you, deer buck that was shot in the side, and then in the rear for good measure, so that we may enjoy your meat.

 

Thank you, slow slow process of turning a deer from a live thing, bounding over a dry creek bed, to a dead thing, hanging from a workshop ceiling.

 

Thank you, pulleys and laws of physics and bone knives and laws of nature and blood on my shoes.

 

Thank you, deer buck, tongue hanging out and off to the side, eyes wide open, no longer here and unbothered by what we’re doing to you.

 

Thank you, slow slow food dehydrator purchased from Academy Sports + Outdoors several Christmases ago.

 

Thank you, vomit on the kitchen tile, which makes us grateful for modern medicine and Clorox wipes.

 

Thank you, United Grocery Store for being open on Thanksgiving so that we might buy milk, sturdy paper plates, Crisco, and more Clorox wipes.

 

Thank you, United Grocery Store checkout girl working the 7 a.m. – noon shift with the sweet smile, and for saying, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

 

Thank you, United Methodist Church bell-tower for your sweet melody radiating into cold air in slightly sour tones, pinging the hearts of unsuspecting listeners—trash taker-outers and hunters just outside of town.

 

Thank you, “I Love to Tell the Story” for that dark-sounding note on the word “true.”

 

Thank you, Steve Jobs for this laptop at which I write. Thank you for understanding that computers could be personal and would ultimately be tools of empowerment and not instruments of repression and mere data collection.

 

Thank you, democratization of technology that bolsters truer democracy and leads to the ruin of evil dictators, Harvey Weinstein-types, and racist fraternities.

 

Thank you, United Grocery Store checkout girl for yet another sweet smile when I returned for chicken broth 25 minutes later.

 

Thank you, sweet saints, telling true stories, holding babies while peeling potatoes, saints that answer not to names but to sounds—consonant-vowel, consonant-vowel—uttered by coarse tongues.

 

—clf

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Sunday Evening Post (9-10-17)

I remember spending the night at a friend's house when I was in the 8th grade. We stayed up late calling girls on the telephone. I recall my friend's dad picking up the phone in his room while I was on the line. He said, "Rob, get off the phone, and stay off the phone."

My female friend, in a hushed tone said, "Who was that?"

"Rob's dad," I said. "We better go."

"Okay, bye."

I was mortified, and I'd most likely managed inadvertently to get Rob grounded.

But thinking back on it, those were good times. Late nights eating pop-tarts, drinking pop, listening to CDs, playing Donkey Kong, and calling girls.

The risk in calling a girl late was that her parents might pick up. We had a way around that problem. The key was to have the girl call the time & temp number at a specified time and then switch over via call waiting. It was brilliant, and it generally worked. Unless, that is, the parents happened to pick up the phone.

It all seems so innocent, so primitive now.

//

I recently read this super-depressing article in the Atlantic—"Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?"

[I realize the irony of decrying social media on social media, but it's worth a read if you have the time.]

https://www.theatlantic.com/…/has-the-smartphone-de…/534198/

I've got to say, it's rather disturbing. In short, kids are drinking less, and are less sexually active, but they're lonelier than ever.

As someone who will have teenage girls sometime in the not so distant future, I'm pleased about the first two stats, but I'd hate to think they'd become so consumed by their devices that they'd miss out on life itself.

//

Rather than strictly condemning this generation, I'm trying to be more aware of the use of "screen time" in my OWN life. I'm trying to look less at my phone, but #fomo is very real. "What was that ring, ding, buzz, etc.? Wonder how many likes I have?" We've become like sophisticated Pavlovian dogs.

Occasionally Nora (the 3 year old) will enter the room and say, "Daddy, Daddy... Daddy?"

"Yes, what is it?" I say.

"Look at my eyes, Daddy."

That's code for stop looking at your phone; you're missing out on life itself.