COVID Days, Thanksgiving, and Gratitude
Sara Ries Dziekonski
It’s nice to be back in this space to reflect, share, and connect. It is one of those tired deep-in-my-bones days, when things feel slightly off. The pandemic adds extra weight, for everybody. And while I’m extremely grateful to be going through this with enough food on the table, a kind husband, and an adorable son by my side, I sometimes fight waves of sadness.
Last night I went to pick up a bag of hand-me-down Onesies from my awesome neighbor and when I got there, she had this lovely dinner party in full swing with her friend and the friend’s children. I was invited in, and I really wanted to join them—it would have been wonderful, and my one-year-old could make new tiny toddler friends, but I didn’t because I worried about the virus.
The food smelled delicious, there was music playing, and everyone looked so happy. Candles were burning and I stood in the doorway between that world and the one where touch and closeness feel like sin. Later, I walked around our neighborhood and saw how the moonlight spilled down the hill of Roser Park, and I wondered how long until we can share space like normal again.
As I write this, my best friend’s boyfriend’s aunt is in the hospital on a ventilator with COVID-19. A spoken word poet I know from Buffalo is sick with the virus too, and my godmother’s mother tested positive the other day.
We had a socially distanced Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and uncle in their yard and at separate tables beside their ancient and gigantic oak tree. The Spanish moss dangled like dreams or spirits in the sunlight. We ate the classics: turkey and gravy, squash, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberries, heaps of mashed potatoes, and crescent rolls. Teddy Blue Eyes ate so much that his belly bulged. That meal, he hardly threw any food on the ground.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and gorging on rich and delicious food, I’ll share a few lines from one of my mentors, Sheryl St. Germain, about the pure pleasure of eating. She was my professor at Chatham University where I was a student in the MFA program in Creative Writing from 2007-2009. The poem, called “Eating,” is from her book Let It Be a Dark Roux. Sheryl St. Germain begins the poem:
“I have eaten the blueberry pancakes with their rich wells
of butter and syrup, and I have not once thought
about the weight of syrup and butter on heart and hips” (lines 1-3).
In the second (and final stanza) she writes,
“I want to forget the sad tuna fish sandwiches
and cottage cheese lunches, to hell with the idea
that I could be slim, happy” (lines 13-15).
Sheryl St. Germain writes luscious poems!
I’ll end this post with a few servings of gratitude:
I am grateful for the feast of sunshine in St. Pete, and sometimes I consume so much of it that my skin is pissed-off and red. It’s like rich food that upsets my stomach after just a few bites. I appreciate that I can go outside all through the winter with ease especially during this pandemic. I’m grateful for the woman on my walk this morning. She pulled down her mask from a safe distance and smiled and waved at Teddy; Teddy waved back from the stroller.
I’m forever grateful for literary communities everywhere, especially Buffalo, where I’m from, and St. Pete, where I am now. I’ve met such magical people in both these communities. Some St. Pete poets and I gathered for a socially distanced feast in Miesha’s backyard for Friendsgiving and when our bellies were stuffed, we shared poems around her bonfire. I am grateful for these moments of connection, good food, friends, family, and poetry.
I’m grateful for all of you who are reading this. I hope that you are safe and that you are journeying through your days with the sunshine or moonlight spilling splendidly over your shoulder.
With grace and gratitude,