Category: Ordinary Thanks

Elizabeth Howard’s online Gratitude log

With Turkey


Two men say: I love you
With turkey. They do it at
At least twice a year,
Once at my husband’s
Table, with me at the store
Choosing all the groceries, the
Parsnips off season,
The magical ginger root
To dress an everyday carrot. Pushing
The cart through the refrigerated aisles
I catch myself cruising a thought:
Someday wouldn’t it be nice to
Make my mom’s mom’s mother’s
Dressing recipe — which has more
Sausage less bread than Henry’s — but then I
Don’t, I wouldn’t because
This daylong ritual of trussing and
Chopping and ram jetting
And then, just so, while whisking,
Timing out the sides, is
Colin’s way of telling
His Dad: I watch. I learn.
I notice. I love.

Not Native

It’s just coffee.
Dr. Joe’s coffee and the
Market Battery and the
Princess of Wales namesake on
Stone edifice around the corner from
Tattoo parlor and Gentlemen’s
Clubs. It’s just an
Old downtown trying to
Bring on the latest
Food Fad — bubble tea and
Burger Bars. It’s just
A room for people to
Congregate, with their
Bowls of fair trade coffee
And their laptops. But
It is not native to
These uncomfortable countrified
Children, waiting for
Dad to pay and for
Some kind of green
Space to open up and for
“Time to go!” and its particular suburban
Inflection to mean “Hop in
The Van” and not this strange
Unfamiliarly natural flow out
The door, on foot,
Which requires the journey to
Be more than
The destination.

Could Not Hear Her


I don’t think the woodpecker cared
That I strained but could not
Hear her
Over the wheel river of minivans
Flooding down the
Back road toward the
Little neighborhood school.
My girl and I stopped our walk
To spot the bird
At work
High up in the
Still-naked bough. We saw her
But could not hear
No, could not hear her,
Knock, knock knocking
On a branch
For her breakfast, no
Neither could we hear the
Diving chickadees or
The curdled call of the
Scurrying morning doves.

The Two Men


Before JD left, last time, to go back
To Kansas City, he and Colin
Agreed that moving the laundry
From the basement to its new
(Though not finished) room
On the 2nd floor, was the most
Important last and final chore
To complete before the
Two men who love me most
My dear friend and my husband
Parted ways for another
Four months. I hear the rocket engine
Squeal now of the washer drum spinning–
Hard at work
Reminding me a good deal of
The world’s sweetness is
Positively mundane.

The Blue in the Bird

I am not like the
Momma bird who pushed me
From her nest. She’s the
Eastern bluebird, easy to spot
Easy to identify, all the
Straightforward qualities of
An uncomplicated thrush that sits
Still, then quickly alights,
Uncomplicated in our lives.

I am my Daddy’s daughter–
Heavy layers of brown I drag around, with
That something saggy dangling from my chin
Which no one can look away from,
And I’m a sorry mess
Wandering around in a stranger’s
Yard, chasing a friend I never
Quite catch up with, the
Sleek deer or the overzealous
Beagle, just a little wishing to
To chat and say
Hello.

I am Momma’s daughter,
Though, still with wings that
Carry me unsteady over the
Road when I need to go, and with that
Bit of blue around my eyes, I’ve been
Seen as occasionally beautiful in my
Own way, with just enough sense to
Show myself when you pine for life to
Spring again, but to disappear into
The hedge, my way to send your day’s
Shadows into longing again.

Ripped Fabric


The rip down the hip
Of these jeans makes me suddenly feel
I don’t have enough.
It’s because the two new pairs I
Bought last month have somehow ended up
In the laundry at the same time
Which, if you know my laundry
Schedule, is physics-ally impossible;
Making me think I must have
Slipped into a Dr. Who episode via the
Hamper and passed myself in
Time and space, perhaps
Knocked out by a nubby pink
Dryer ball. And now I am
Awake on a Sunday with
Two loads of dirty darks
To do, and twins pining over
Their general lack of leggings
And sure that I don’t have
Enough in my life or my
Closet to span the rip in
Laundry continuum.

What I See


I’m prone to forgetting all the
Goodness around me on the
Sewer pit days when the shenpa
Has caught me. But there are
Monarch butterflies and sweet
Sailors and other things which
Return I remember
And I’ll catch that
Preserver until I
Spot the metaphorical
Land, something catches my
Eye, like the eye of this
Funny coat rack, given to me
By Tim and Peter on the
Birthday where Frances tricked me
And the London friends surprised
Me and I wasn’t wearing
Yoga pants but a
Very pretty dress.