“Thanksgiving” by Mac Hammond
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
The man who stands above the bird, his knife Sharp as a Turkish scimitar, first removes A thigh and leg, half the support On which the turkey used to stand. This Leg and thigh he sets on an extra Plate. All his weight now on One leg, he lunges for the wing, the wing On the same side of the bird from which He has just removed the leg and thigh. He frees the wing enough to expose The breast, the wing not severed but Collapsed down to the platter. One hand Holding the fork, piercing the turkey Anywhere, he now begins to slice the breast, Afflicted by small pains in his chest, A kind of heartburn for which there is no Cure. He serves the hostess breast, her Own breast rising and falling. And so on, Till all the guests are served, the turkey Now a wreck, the carver exhausted, a Mere carcass of his former self. Everyone Says thanks to the turkey carver and begins To eat, thankful for the cold turkey And the Republic for which it stands.
from Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems, 1989
Copyright 1989 by Mac Hammond.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Bellevue Press from Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1989 by Mac Hammond. For further permissions information, contact Katka Hammond, [email protected].
About the Poet
Mac Hammond (1926-1997) was a poet, a professor emeritus of English, and the director of the graduate program in creative writing at the university of New York at Buffalo. Hammond is the author of four poetry collections, including Mappamundi: New and Selected Poems (Bellevue Press, 1989). Hammond died in 1997.
Learn more about Mac Hammond at Poetry Hunter.