Thanks & Thorns


This week we started playing this game: “Who in this room do you think is your child visiting here from the future?”
My son says maybe he’s my twin who has travelled to the future to act as my son. Or maybe I’m his twin traveling back from the future to replace his (or I guess our) mother. If we let time blur in this way, it is easy to feel relieved and confused. It is easy to realize how many mistakes we are still making, have made before. To see our mothers as our daughters and our grandmothers as ourselves. I once read this book about a woman who switched places with her great-grandmother the day of her wedding by locking eyes with her in the mirror. I think of it all the time. I’m full and I’m melancholy. I have this poem for you. It was written in 1927. It could have been written this morning.

To family.


By W.S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out

in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change

we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


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