Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Leading up to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one week from tomorrow. For one thing, I'm thankful I don't live near Buffalo NY. I'm thankful the furnace is working (knock on wood). There are too many things I've come to take for granted. I didn't have to go out and snow blow today. My new son-in-law took care of that. Most nights when we all get to sit down together for supper and it's my turn to say what made me happy that day, I've had answers that I was pleased to share. I'm thankful for my family and that I occasionally have the sense to slow down a little bit and realize that we should no more celebrate Thanksgiving one day a year than we should each honor our Higher Power only one day a week. The Haudenosaunee have a "Thanksgiving" Prayer that I've found worth remembering and reading more than once a year or even once a week. After noting some of the comments and statements yesterday, from august members of the world's greatest deliberative body(?), on the pros and cons of approving the Keystone pipeline, it occurs to me that, as a culture, if I may use that term loosely, we haven't studied the Iroquois principles of democracy as much as we should have. I'm thankful we still have an opportunity to learn those lessons and take them to heart just as we have, for a while, at least, an opportunity to treat the earth with something closer to the level of respect Native Americans have practiced and learn from them how to live more sustainably on and with Turtle Island. I'm also thankful that I have such a flock of interesting neighbors.

post-Thanksgiving turkeys
Photo by J. Harrington

I hope that, with a little (very little) effort on your part, over the next week you can discover how much you have to be thankful for, each and every day.

Passing Rez School the Day before Thanksgiving Day, Unoriginal Sin and a Redskin Pilgrim’s Retrogression

By Ralph Salisbury
Footpath passing a school,

undiscovered by a nun
black at her blackboard’s explanation
of Vanishing Americans’ vanishing, I find myself

flagged, by two not quite red rows,
unfurled into grin, two white, and by one
five-pointed, pale star.

My lips let my teeth pledge allegiance,
again, my fingers orbiting their own warmth,
around this pen,
as straight as Old Glory’s tall pole, but
admittedly, ingloriously smaller, and,

as the star descends, it draws,
from Christian calendars’ precision constellations,
a child—hand cramped
from fisting fact onto dusty black
clutching a wand,
to draw him Everywhere.

Though the teacher scowls
us back to my dead, risen from
The Trail of Tears

as chalk,
this day before Thanksgiving Day; a child
will lead, as I finish taking my walk.


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