“This Thanksgiving” by Jen Gayda Gupta

When he takes his seat at the table I notice
the tiny thin scar running through the bald field
at the top of my uncle’s head. If he had fallen just
a little to the left or right, it might now be hidden
under the tufts of white hair that have grown
since August. We could have forgotten.

My uncle has moved to a new home,
one without stairs, no more falls. We know
who will join us next Thanksgiving. We make
sure by calling it into the room. But I can’t
pretend I didn’t see the tiny scar

and if I really think about it, I don’t know
if my brother will make it home. I know he won’t
always call before he tries to get behind the wheel
and just because he hasn’t called doesn’t mean
he is sleeping in his bed, alcohol leaking

from his blood. I picture all the cells flowing
through my parents’ body like a river,
downstream or upstream or whichever stream
will keep their hearts beating.

Each night my husband breathes next to me
while he sleeps. I know because I check.
I listen to the dog let out a long sigh, more
proof we are okay. Each night, I text my sister
and thank god she is still awake—still alive.

At the table, I give thanks to all
I can be sure of while my family celebrates
the baby that will be with us next year,
tasting the yams, no longer listening
through the watery cocoon of skin.

Jen Gayda Gupta is a teacher, an avid hiker, and a horse lover. She is currently on the run from responsibility, living nowhere at all with her husband and their dog. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Dodging the Rain, Jellyfish Review, Sky Island Journal, The Shore, and others. You can find her @jengaydagupta and jengaydagupta.com.

Image: “Any Way the Wind Blows 02” by Bill Cawley

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