We give thanks —
For red cardinals that appear
For violets, pristine and tender,
And tall white oaks
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,
Thanks for mid-cities churning industry For rural places poised on tractors
Peopled with all kinds
Of people —
In the Land of Lincoln
Lifting Freedom, Union, yes
We pray for each other
In all our heartbreaks.
We give thanks
For family, for dear ones,
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
After many and much
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