Thanksgiving at the Sea Ranch

Thanksgiving at the Sea Ranch Poem By Sandra M. Gilbert

Contemplating Metempsychosis
You tried coming back as a spider
I was too fast for you. As you
climbed my ankle, I swept you off, I ground you
to powder under my winter boot.
Shall I cherish the black widow,
I asked, because he is you?
You were cunning: you became
the young, the darkly masked
raccoon that haunts my deck.

Each night for weeks you tiptoed
toward the sliding doors, your paws
imploring, eyes aglow. Let me in,
Let me back in, you hissed,
swaying beside the tubbed fuchsia,
shadowing the fancy cabbage in its Aztec pot.

And you’ve been creatures of the air and sea,
the hawk that sees into my skull, the seal that
barks
a few yards from the picnic on the shore.

Today you chose a different life, today
you’re trying to stumble
through the tons of dirt that hold you down:

you’re a little grove of mushrooms,
rising from the forest floor you loved.

Bob saw you in the windbreak—
November mushrooms, he said,
off-white and probably poisonous.

Shall I slice you for the feast?
If I eat you will I die back into your arms?
Shall I give thanks for God’s wonders
because they all are you, and you are them?
The meadow’s silent, its dead grasses
ignore each other and the evening walkers
who trample them. What will you be,
I wonder, when the night wind rises?

Come back as yourself, in your blue parka,
your plaid flannel shirt with the missing button.
These fields that hum and churn with life
are empty. There is nowhere
you are not, nowhere
you are not not.