by Parker Towle

And so she puts extra leaves in the table, sets it
for us with old china from her mother and
silver purchased out of the frugality of the Great
Depression. Vegetables, as from her husband’s garden
steam on the stove. One great granddaughter in
crinoline skirt chases another in a tousled red wig from
room to room the way the three of us
boy cousins behaved in our aunt’s basement,
Thanksgiving years ago. The meal is set for
family and friends as it has been for many days for
centuries by this simple yet complicated
New England family in America. We bow our heads
to remember the empty chairs at the table and praise
our sense of duty and family, the devotion to labor,
passion of mind and body, the love of God
passed from our pilgrim kin like the heaped
platters of food around the table.