“The Day Before Thanksgiving” by Jed Myers

The Day Before Thanksgiving


I remember not

wanting to wander outside


the lines of

the full-page cartoon turkey


I colored in

with the available browns,


reds, golds,

and yellows the Crayola


box between

Irvin Snyder and me


offered up

while Mrs. Gregory watched


over all of

us, her high-necked solid-green


dress over two

great breasts, belly


and hips also mountainous, calves and ankles


thick as church

columns in their flesh-



stockings. She cruised the aisles


between our

rows of desks, clopping


close then

away in her fat-heeled shoes,


her white hair

cinched in a bun, a patriot


goddess of

George Washington’s Revolution.


Irvin was

fast. In his hand the wax flared


out past the

black demarcations. His turkey looked


jittery, as if

it shook in its dread



of being blasted


or having its

head chopped off any moment,


as if it were

radiating already


with oven

heat, crayon feathers and all,


Irvin swiftly

giving it life


on its final

Wednesday, haphazardly


fattening it

by a half-inch outside


its outlines.

It was furry with streaks


of those

sunset and earth tones he slap-dashed


over the

fictional meat.


I proceeded


with care.

Mrs. Gregory’s eyes,


like orbiting

satellites or atomic


electrons, could

be anywhere. She glared


right through

the back of my head, the righteous


witness for

all America, telepathic


reporter to

Congress, the President, God,


and my mom and

dad. My fingers were locked


in meticulous

progress, the tip of my implement


far too fat

for the exactness


I felt was

expected. I squinted


and bent

close. I approached the limits


of each

distinct patch of the image


of our

sacrifice with a selected shade,


keeping my

surgical acts inside


those sacred

edges. My turkey was neat.


But it would

never be ready to eat.


Mrs. Gregory

marched by and leaned,


her right

breast, the very flesh of our manifest


destiny, next

to my pounding temple,


lifted my

sheet, and with an imperious



straightened herself and strode on


to the next,

my Thanksgiving bird to remain


mostly white,

its lower reaches and feet


like the map

of a region of nameless provinces


none of us

knew much about. Our nation


and all its

hungry beliefs would race


through the

coming sunset and into the next


mass ritual of

it self-confirmation


without that

perfect portrayal of thanks


I would not

complete. So I wept


at my desk,

over my failed operation,


the golden

autumn afternoon light


like beams of

mysterious glory slanting


in on Ms.

Liberty’s powdered neck.



Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Golden Handcuffs Review, qarrtsiluni, Atlanta Review, Quiddity, The Monarch Review, Palooka, Fugue, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Rose Alley Press anthology Many Trails to the Summit, and elsewhere. By day he is a psychiatrist with a therapy practice and teaches at the University of Washington. By night he hosts the long-running open-mic cabaret NorthEndForum. He likes to weave poetry and music together, and sometimes does so with the ensemble Band of Poets.




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