Alternate Thanksgiving (first published in Lumiere Review)
In the alternate universe, we dwell—early morn—in the ironies
that are Thanksgiving, discussing abundance
and at whose expense. I am your “Cherokee dude”
and in kindness, you pull a comb through my wet tangled
hair, wresting the handle with your weight.
You wouldn’t mind my pounds of grief, speaking of weight,
as grief would be a fogged imprint in the startling ever-now
in which we live big, love each other as geese,
tumble into each day as feathered clock hands,
but with no regard for—or awareness of time’s dreadful ticking.
As the sun rises, we open the doors to the coffee shop, fire
the grill, make Jesus-faced pancakes for tickled Brits,
who trickle dependably through our door, eager for pastries,
for Deepak Chopra-blessed rolls, marveling at each
ordinary miracle. Customers fawn over your hand-drawn cards
with happy bears or devastated girls with weeping magpies nested
on their heads. The smell of coffee stirs me through associations.
You prefer tea, but always pour me a cup, and I’m in love
with the rising steam, and your hands wrapped around the bone
China, the ritual of it, that you do it each day, and it’s an act
of kindness I can count on . . .
In the lull of late morning, there is time to fuck you in the kitchen
as lunch soups bubble on the burners, and bread you kneaded
rises in a lone corner oven . . . Our kitchen, we run as we please . . .
On this particular Thanksgiving, there is none, as I am no longer
American, and you never were. The bells bang the glass as workers
arrive for lunch. We work, our faces aglow in our secrets. Just the two
of us, yet it is not work, and no one gives a shit we’re gay. The town
is small, people are lost in their habits. We serve and pamper them.
Make idle chat—or you do, as you are like that. They are passing
tourists in a queer world that belongs to us, our coffee shop—with beaten
wood floors, and food we craft by hand, and our kindness and attention.
When four-thirty arrives, we lock the peeling door, you pour us
coffee and tea, and we rest, knees touching, as our breaths
slow for evening. Steam again rises from our cups; we sit in silence
as traffic rolls by, and the sun begins its early departure.