From a distance, as you walk your morning miles, you begin
to watch the woman standing near the waves.
Hours before the sunbathers will arrive,
she is aiming her camera toward an unimpressive
sandcastle. She is soft, and pale, and thick
through her middle, and something more
than middle-aged, and you think without hesitation
that she is happy,
and you wonder why
so many photos—first from one angle, then another—
and you decide she’s never been to an ocean
before; she’s from some landlocked place
where she would not stand out
for having moon-white shoulders
glowing down on densely freckled forearms,
or high-waisted floral shorts,
or that gray halo of tightly permed hair,
and you think, maybe she’s here for some family
holiday, and maybe all of this is new
to her—this salty, gull-strewn air, this
fine, warm sand, these unceasing waves—and maybe that’s why
she is happy
on this beach and in this moment, savoring
her sandcastle,
and you believe she is at ease
with herself, and you believe
she is loved—you know
she is loved—
and lately you’ve been noticing
your dried out body, your face with its deepening
lines, and you’ve been noticing
how your youngest child,
your only son, now sighs and shrugs away
your conversation, and you’ve been wondering
whether you have done enough, are good enough,
and it isn’t that
you think your husband doesn’t love you,
but for so long you’ve been wanting him
to touch you, touch
you into faith that you are, still,
good enough for
and now you see this soft, aging woman, so pleased
with her mediocre
castle, so at home within
herself, and she is
and you fall in love with her,
and you give thanks
for her, though you do not share a single word with her as you pass by.

Jennifer L Freed lives in Holden, MA. In other lives, she taught English in the People’s Republic of China and in the former Czechoslovakia. Her poems have appeared in various journals including Poetry East, Atlanta Review, Off the Coast, and Cloudbank. Her chapbook was a finalist in the 2013 New Women’s Voices contest.

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2 Responses to Thanksgiving

  1. J.L. Smith says:

    Reblogged this on Jennifer L Smith and commented:
    Some words to ponder today. Nice poem. Reblogged:)

  2. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it!

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