A poem of Thanksgiving

Culture | Familiarity
For no other reason than Mom wanting to take a break
from preparing and cleaning up.
We drove down to Jersey,
past the silent campuses at New Brunswick and Princeton,
and then up the Delaware, Washington crossed on Christmas Day
in 1776, he had gone to Trenton;
now we went the other way, to Lambertville,
to the Lambertville Station restaurant
where we served ourselves a buffet dinner
of Thanksgiving.

With stomachs full, and light failing,
we hastened East to the Westin Princeton,
to its custom-made beds, its hot tub and pool,
where we found among the other guests,
not one but two men setting aside their dog tags:
National Guardsmen, from Michigan and Massachusetts,
enjoying a day’s leave with their families,
before returning to Fort Dix,
preparing to deploy,
for Iraq.

Woe be our family to be ignorant of war,
of the men who fight it, of the places they train,
of the decisions they face, and
Yet this war– are we three years into it,
or is it half that time?– we have no ties,
So sought at that moment, by the pool to adopt them.
One staff seargent, with nineteen years of Reserve service,
Taking a swim with his wife, her parents, their one-year old.
He had to report the next morning to lead the young men
in infantry.

A thirty-year old seargent, with his twenty-five year old wife,
she who drove 13 hours from Michigan to see him,
she who was so excited she did it all in one stretch.
He was looking forward to doing driving himself,
providing logistics support outside Fallujah.
What was he expecting? and had he followed the story
last month, of the reservists transport unit
who would not deliver fuel on a mission unsafe? He hadn’t heard,
he wasn’t aware; we are all a bit selective when we read
the news.

Our next day morning we awoke to bag the deals
at the Forrestal Village outlet stores,
going out of business–
thirty, forty, sixty percent off,
(sometimes in combination if the salesgirls were careless)
Shirts and shoes and pants and belts:
Items of clothing for which New Jersey demands no taxes.
We missed the real good-byes that morning,
of the families to their soldiers, who were off simply
to serve.