by Kevin Gardner

Stepping through Mom and G's hand-planed oak door,
I could smell the crisp of the turkey skin roasting in the oven,
and the crunch of the topping on Mom's apple pie cooling
on the back porch surrounded by seven barn cats
calling for their share of the holiday feast.
Past the pantry and the dining table trimmed a'plenty.
I could taste the excitement of seeing cousins
aunts and uncles, as we gathered to give thanks.
Even the bittersweet disappointment
of having to sit at the kids table
did nothing to dampen our spirits
The lord gave.

I remember that morning. Yes, that day.
the silence was so loud that I could hear nothing else
silent was the pain, silent too the suffering.
silent the voice that told me to drink my milk
and wash behind my ears. One month later
we were seated around the hand rubbed oak table
the smell of the crisp, and of the crunch strong
enough to fill the kids table and one place
at the head of the table. One place set
and the chair stood empty
the lord took away

This evening, the deck drenched in Indian summer, I stand.
a floating elm leaf, burning orange in the autumn sun, spins softly
landing in my coffee. I cross the bridge,
joining the crisp of the season, I smell the crunch of the leaves.
Shuffling through the Fall, I rest against the wire fence.
From here I can see everything I am. Humble.
The warm house, my home. the table trimmed a'plenty
My table

In my mind

I can still see the joy of an old oak door, the pain
of the empty chair. I smile at the thought
of the kids table. I remember
the silence of that day. silent as the stone eternally resting in peace.
the son. Becomes the father. The Grandfather
The table changes. The chairs are filled.
With those that are there, and those that were,
and the promise of those that will be.
blessed be that tie, blessed be the ones I love,
Blessed be.

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