The First Year • Barbara Crooker

It’s Thanksgiving, and the family gets together;
the smell of turkey laces through the house.
Her absence such a presence in November.

Perhaps it’s only something in the weather,
the shortened days, wind turning from the south,
sumac leaves, red as cardinals’ feathers—

Or is it past Thanksgivings I remember?
Both leaves and birds know when it’s time to go,
the fiery trees now burning down to embers.

If I mailed a card, it’d be returned to sender.
The pies sit on the counter, in a row.
Cranberries and oranges mingle in the blender.
I miss her more than ever in November.


Barbara Crooker's poems have appeared in magazines such as Green Mountains Review, Hollins Critic, Christian Science Monitor, Smartish Pace, Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod, Denver Quarterly, and Tampa Review.