November 25, 2015


by Jon Loomis

Tonight we celebrate the Great Mistake of the Wampanoag,
who should have gutted the Puritan freaks or let them starve,

not that killing would have stopped the invasion or even
slowed it down, much—ship after reeking ship, crammed

with smug entrepreneurs, their smallpox, their stern
and stingy God. There are times when the future lies open

before us, plain as a roadmap: this is what’s next,
and then this. It wasn’t one of those times.

Which of the Wampanoag farmers could have imagined
extinction? The swift and total erasure of all that they knew?

Tonight, the table set, crystal gleam and china gleam,
the candles’ wavering light. Wine glasses full, the turkey

crouched and steaming on its platter, around the table we go:
we’re thankful, we say, for these beautiful children,

this glorious feast that took all day to prepare,
for Grandma’s good health, for good friends

and warm houses. “For the dog,” Ava says, and we laugh.
And when it’s my turn, I say, “Everything—

all—I’m greatful for all that I love.” We eat then, and nobody
mentions the shadow. I’m grateful for this, too—the mercy

of doomed tribes, of blind hope. How we still sit down
to a good meal, disaster’s white sails just past the horizon.

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