Gratitude

Something about the way this word is often used sets my teeth on edge–a whiff of self-satisfaction? Of hypocrisy? In any case, that made me doubly pleased to find a poem by Jon Davis with this title that I like without those reservations. It seems appropriate for today, especially as he is the director of the low residency MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Arts:

Gratitude

Forget each slight, each head that turned
Toward something more intriguing—
Red flash of wing beyond the window,

The woman brightly chiming
About the suffering of the world. Forget
The way your best friend told the story

Of that heroic road trip, forgetting that you drove
From Tulsa to Poughkeepsie while he
Slumped dozing under headphones. Forget

The honors handed out, the lists of winners.
Forget the certificates, bright trophies you
Could have, should have, maybe won.

Remind yourself you never wanted them.
When the spotlight briefly shone on you,
You stepped back into darkness,

Let the empty stage receive the light,
The black floor suddenly less black—
Scuff-marks, dust, blue tape—the cone

Of light so perfect, slicing silently that perfect
Silent darkness, and you, hidden in that wider dark,
Your refusal a kind of gratitude at last.

Jon Davis

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