Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

BJ Ward: First Thanksgiving

A chair was never emptier
than on the first Thanksgiving
after my father died. 
 
For the first time,
the grace had an echo
careening from the canyon 
of the seat.
 
Thanks for the final 
years of sobriety.
Praise for the end 
of his suffering.
But Lord, we’re not so grateful 
for the cancerous spot 
that was a pinprick 
on the balloon of his right lung.
 
Our hands clasped—
    an emptiness between them, too.
 
We tilted our necks down 
    as if at a beheading.
 
The empty seat 
was actually my old spot,
and now I was at the head 
of the immense table.

BJ Ward’s books include Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990-2013 (North Atlantic Books, 2013).

Copyright 2020 BJ Ward

When a Family Member Isn’t There This Holiday: 4 Healthy Responses (Joshua Hook)

5 comments on “BJ Ward: First Thanksgiving

  1. Barbara Huntington
    November 26, 2020

    Beautiful. I tend to block out the firsts after losing grandparents, father, mother, aunts and uncles, a nephew, cousins, friends. I guess I am the matriarch. No pleasure in achieving that position. I do remember a thanksgiving in my grandfather’s house as we waited for calls about an uncle and an aunt, not spouses, who were in hospitals. My aunt died and came back that day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. loranneke
    November 26, 2020

    I love BJ Ward’s poems, and love this one — that subtle “spot” repeated twice in a completely different context yet so terribly connected… Bravo for this poem!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. russell buker
    November 26, 2020

    Heartfelt

    Liked by 1 person

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