Late For Thanksgiving Dinner

by Thomas R. Smith


Thomas R. Smith

Thomas is the author of:
The Dark Indigo Current
Holy Cow! Press
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Horse of Earth
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Beyond the snow-covered mill yard,

sleet dissolved on the open river,

my grandfather's working years

dissolving among stacks of pulpwood.

As afternoon darkened, the old man

clenched crooked teeth on a cigar.


Then my father's face loomed in the

doorway, reddened, a setting sun:

He stamped snow off his overshoes

on the wooden porch. Closing

the bowling alley had delayed him,

sweeping, preparing the bank deposit.


He took his place at table among

knives a sober man might have noticed.

I watched the bravura show of heaping

his plate, then the failure of appetite

and doomed campaign to laugh it off,

the mutual contempt of two women


who hated each other, his mother

and my mother. Midway through the meal,

he rose unsteadily, lurched toward

the sofa, and succumbed -- then I knew

some line of defense between myself

and their contempt had also broken.


Thirty-five years later, I imagine

his shame, struggling from bilious

sleep on Aunt Mae's sofa, food

turned to burning bile in his stomach,

a damaged silence, snow falling through

black panes, the shaky drive home. . . .


Having dropped his self-protection,

how could he be anyone's protector?

At that moment, I became responsible

for him: After that nothing could stop me

from being his ten-year-old father

and husband to his unhappy wife.

       © 1997 by Thomas R. Smith

Hear MP3 WebCasts from a reading by Robert Bly and Thomas R. Smith, editor of the first United States anthology of Alden Nowlan's poems, When He Went to the Store for a Loaf of Bread.

Other Poems by Thomas R. Smith

This appeared in:
The Dark Indigo Current
Holy Cow! Press
$12.95
Qty:

Affectionate Witness, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem, published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current, was first published in M.E.N. Magazine.

The Boy Who Crawled, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem, published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current, was first published in M.E.N. Magazine.

The Reply, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem was published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current.

The Road to Kenora, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem was published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current.

Admiring My Father, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem was published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current.

The Reply, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem, published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current, was first published in M.E.N. Magazine.

The Road to Kenora, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem, published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current, was first published in M.E.N. Magazine.

Admiring My Father, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem, published in Mr. Smith's most recent book, The Dark Indigo Current, was first published in M.E.N. Magazine.

My Father Promised Me a Sword, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem first appeared in M.E.N. Magazine, and was published in Mr. Smith's poetry book Horse of Earth.

The Cruel One, by Thomas R. Smith

The Boy Who Crawled, by Thomas R. Smith

Come In from the Rain!, by Thomas R. Smith. This poem originally appeared in M.E.N. Magazine, and was published in Mr. Smith's first poetry book Horse of Earth.


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