Poetry Friday:

Irene is hosting Poetry Friday here . 

Thanksgiving night – the farm under a full moon


It being our first Thanksgiving at the farm, I prepared for the day especially well.  Around these parts, where the nearest supermarket is forty minutes away, that meant making sure that whatever we needed for our feast was on hand.

Things went awry at breakfast, when we discovered that the kids had been in an extra eggy mood, which left us eggless.

They were also in the mood for extra helpings of bacon, which left us without any to bard the turkey.

Speaking of which, we had left the turkey on our porch since there was no space in our refrigerator to house the bird.  We had not thought to remember that below zero degree temperatures had been predicted for the night before Thanksgiving, which left us with a frozen solid bird.

So…Thanksgiving day became an exercise in adjusting plans, and settling for the less than perfect.  It turned out, no one noticed or minded.  After years and years of over thinking  the perfect feast, I just enjoyed it for what it was – a chance to be together with our family.  I think this poem captures something of that:

Thanksgiving by Billy Collins

The thing about the huge platter
of sliced celery, broccoli florets,
and baby tomatoes you had  arranged
to look like a turkey with its tail fanned out
was that all our guests were so intimidated
by the perfection of the design
no one dared disturb the symmetry
by removing so much as the nub of a carrot.

And the other thing about all that
was that it took only a few minutes
for the outline of the turkey to disappear
once the guests were encouraged to dig in,
so that no one else would have guessed
that this platter of scattered vegetables ever bore
the slightest resemblance to a turkey
or any other two- or four-legged animal.

It reminded me of the sand mandalas
so carefully designed by Tibetan monks
and then just as carefully destroyed
by lines scored across the diameter of the circle,
the variously colored sand then swept
into a pile and carried in a vessel
to the  nearest moving water and poured in–
a reminder of the impermanence of art and life.

Only, in the case of the vegetable turkey
such a reminder was never intended.
Or if it was, I was too busy slicing up
even more vivid lessons in impermanence
to notice. I mean the real turkey minus its head
and colorful feathers, and the ham
minus the pig minus its corkscrew tail.

P.S.  I had great fun looking at veggie platters such as the one Collins describes – this was my favorite, a regal-and-yet-resigned-to-its-fate looking bird.

Related image


9 thoughts on “Poetry Friday:

  1. Very fun, and am happy to hear how flexible everyone was! One year we forgot to take out the candied yams & only later did we discover them burned to the edges of the pan. That may have been the final time I made them. Clearly, we didn’t want them very much. You may not have had that ‘perfect’ Thanksgiving, but you did find the perfect poem, as Billy Collins seems always to have. I do love “no one dared disturb the symmetry”. I am happy for you all that you had your first, and memorable, Thanksgiving at the farm! Thanks, Tara!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful photo, Tara. It’s been cold here too — enough that we can use the garage as an extra refrigerator and the turkey needed extra time to thaw out. I’m glad your family was flexible and enjoyed the feast.


  3. After years of obsessing about everything being perfect, I’ve reached the same conclusion, Tara: Having our family all together is what makes the day perfect. As always, Billy Collins gets it exactly right. Wishing you and yours many happy Thanksgivings on your beautiful farm!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Tara! It’s like you’re living in my house. I live with four teenagers….and I never really know the exact measure of ingredients I have until its time to make something. Last night, at 9:30 my son came down to the basement, where my husband insisted that we watch Citizen Kane (that marvel of movie making—oh, gawd, yawn!) and asked, “where is the caro syrup?” LOL.

    I love, love, love how your Thanksgiving is and was celebrated at the farm. That photo from the top of the hill is stunning. I love it. And, I can tell your day was full and blessed. Collins poem is so perfect. I think he wrote it for you.

    Thank you for this wonderful visit to the farm.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara, that pic of the farm is SO VERY BEAUTIFUL! And I can relate to the beauty of letting go of the perfect Thanksgiving and embracing what is… and hello, that veggie turkey is ADORABLE!! Thank you so much for sharing this. Makes my morning. xo


  6. What a photo! That is LOVE shining out those windows, I’m sure.

    Sorry If I got a bit of a laugh at the expense of your eggs/bacon/turkey.

    Leave it to you to find the perfect Billy Collins for the occasion. (And now I’m inspired to make that veggie tray for next year!!)


  7. Billy Collins always cuts straight to the heart in style, doesn’t he? You may not have had all the other elements lined up and ready to go, but you sure picked the perfect poem! I loved reading about your Thanksgiving and imagining your family all nestled under that glorious moonshine, laughing at the mishaps. I suspect this will be a Thanksgiving long remembered!


  8. Hi Tara,
    What a great poem. I always like. Poems that being with “the thing about”… Collins captures so much about Thanksgiving.
    BTW, you wn the book A Kick in the Head. PM me your address.


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