I believed the worst was behind,
the voyage over, cramped and tossing,
the first winter, harsh, finishing
the house as the snow began to fall,
and a spring, glorious, the explosion
of trees into green, into life. We prayed,
we joined in service, we planted what
seeds we had with us and what seeds
the people beyond the trees gave us.
Then came the fever. I dug your grave
as the children watched, our children
who alone kept me moving, caused me
to arise in the morning, he has
your dimple, she has your eyes.
The harvest was good, not overflowing
but good, we would not hunger this winter,
and the leaders and the women thought it
right to mark the harvest, and we prepared
our game, our squash, our maize,
fruits from the forest, and the people
beyond the trees came through the woods,
and watched for a time, finally walking
into our midst, with more game, and fish,
and berries we had not seen before,
creating an abundance. And we spoke
of God’s provision in this beautiful, hostile
land, and we prayed, and ate, and shared
all we had.
But I still think of you, your dimple
and your eyes, and measure the pain
in the thanksgiving.
Photograph: recreation of Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.