Poems of Gratitude From Illinois

Illinois, 2020

We give thanks —

For red cardinals that appear


For violets, pristine and tender,

And tall white oaks

That bear

The weight of midwestern winds

Moving across the prairie



For the kiss of the Great Lake

Michigan, on a Big Chicago, bodacious and bursting With promises

Thanks for the lakes and rivers that flow through A state of dreams and blood and tears, Thin rivers of toil that lace the land

And a Big River, Mississippi,

That runs.

Thanks for mid-cities churning industry For rural places poised on tractors

And waystations

Peopled with all kinds

Of people —

All colors

A One

In the Land of Lincoln

Lifting Freedom, Union, yes

We pray for each other

In all our heartbreaks.

We give thanks

For hope,

For family, for dear ones,

And neighbors

For “I love you”

Written on the red wings of cardinals,

On the sweet petals of violets,

On the strong brown branches of oaks.

We give thanks,

Thanks and thanks.

— Angela Jackson, poet laureate of Illinois

have been taken from us, we gather what remains

like hallowed guests at our otherwise empty table.

Feast of hunger, insatiable if consolable, we welcome

the checkout girl whose eyes smile above her mask,

our improv Zoom bedtime stories, his smile-pained wave

behind panes of glass, corn in its bin and acres harrowed

before snows, assembly lines birthing their progeny,

the crimson maple leaf alighted in a boy’s front-porch lap,

the ballot cast, the television muted like index to lips,

shoosh — This sudden apothecary of hope like sugar

upon the tongue, your ungloved hand in mine.

— Kevin Stein, former poet laureate of Illinois

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8 thoughts on “Poems of Gratitude From Illinois

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