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A Thanksgiving Poem

As part of former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project, Seattle-based technical writer Annik Stahl gives a Thanksgiving-themed reading.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Finally tonight, a thanksgiving holiday reading from the favorite poem series, the project by then-poet laureate Robert Pinsky asking americans to read their favorite poem. Here is Annik Stahl, a technical writer in Seattle.

  • ANNIK STAHL:

    Every year since about, I would say, 1989, I write out a copy of this poem and I put it up somewhere near the Thanksgiving table. If it's at my house or at somebody else's house or… I've always brought it with me.

    You might not think it's a Thanksgiving appropriate poem, but I think it is because it's really about the people and the angels and the animals and God coming together. And our relationship with God and how we might have fallen out of favor. There's still a lot of beauty in it.

    And I think the poet really brings that out at the end, you get to see that… I mean, you get to see a God that is really whimsical and somebody that wants to be understood, you know, not just a guy in a long robe, you know, wielding his power because He can. I mean He really, you know, it's like He has human qualities or we have godly qualities. It's really…

    It's a very synergistic poem. It combines nature, evolution, and the spiritual religious part of that whole Adam and Eve story. And I think a lot of the feelings and emotions in it are very applicable to everyday life.

  • ANNIK STAHL:

    "Lamentations" by Louise Gluck.

    1. The Logos

    They were both still,the woman mournful, the manbranching into her body.

    But God was watching.They felt his gold eyeprojecting flowers on the landscape.

    Who knew what He wanted?He was God, and a monster.So they waited. And the worldfilled with His radiance,as though He wanted to be understood.

    Far away, in the void that He had shaped,he turned to his angels.

    2. Nocturne

    A forest rose from the earth.O pitiful, so needingGod's furious love—

    Together they were beasts.They lay in the fixeddusk of His negligence;from the hills, wolves came, mechanicallydrawn to their human warmth,their panic.

    Then the angels sawhow He divided them:the man, the woman, and the woman's body.

    Above the churned reeds, the leaves let goa slow moan of silver.

    3. The Covenant

    Out of fear, they built a dwelling place.But a child grew between themas they slept, as they triedto feed themselves.

    They set it on a pile of leaves,the small discarded bodywrapped in the clean skinof an animal. Against the black skythey saw the massive argument of light.

    Sometimes it woke. As it reached its handsthey understood they were the mother and father,there was no authority above them.

    4. The Clearing

    Gradually, over many years,the fur disappeared from their bodiesuntil they stood in the bright lightstrange to one another.Nothing was as before.Their hands trembled, seekingthe familiar.

    Nor could they keep their eyesfrom the white fleshon which wounds would show clearlylike words on a page.

    And from the meaningless browns and greensat last God arose, His great shadowdarkening the sleeping bodies of His children,and leapt into heaven.

    How beautiful it must have been,the earth, that first timeseen from the air.

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