Giving Thanks

by Jim Doss
Wild Poetry Forum
Honorable Mention, September 2017
Judged by Tim Mayo

Often late at night when the moon hangs
like a hive in the highest tree,
I take down the box of sharpest Crayolas
and begin to shape a life on a clear sheet of paper.

The outline of a window emerges,
divided like a heart into four chambers.

In one I draw a man sitting at his desk,
his eyes swirling with the dust of the Milky Way,
his fingers resting against his temple
in the shape of a peace sign,
a hummingbird tattooed on his neck
sipping from the carafe of a honeysuckle flower.
I call this serenity.

In another I sketch
a woman standing by a stove
in a sky-blue dress with clouds passing through.
In her hands a dove rests
soft as pillow to lay her head on,
its breast stained red with the eye of eternity.
Steam rises from a pot of boiling potatoes.
Its weeping coats the panes,
reveals those words of loneliness written there
with the invisible ink of fingers.
I call this survival.

In the third
I trace a hand reaching
for the blushing green skin of an apple
grazed by the wind’s teeth
as it clings to a leafy branch.
But just as the hand starts to close around the fruit,
another reaches out to guide it
toward a face where callus touches softness.
I call this love.
On a good day I might call it singing.

Lastly, I outline
the stick-figures of children,
sexless, all dressed the same
as they hold hands smiling in the sunshine.
Grapes ripen on the vines around them,
little worlds exploding with each mouthful,
as the daisy chain of kids stretches ever smaller
toward the horizon, a wish only half conceived.
I call this eternity.

Then I color the window frame
with winter weather, mist rolling in
from the water, the cracked skin of a birch.

At this hour
the house grows quiet as a river
winged by hands that flutter out to hush the sleeping,
and my name barely remains my name,
my death hardly a nest to lay in
with its comfort of subtraction as the days tick down.

Lord, I ask very little,
but grant me a table to sit at,
hands to fold in prayer
and the strength to say Amen, Amen, Amen
through nights blacker than any color the eye can see.