Two Poems by Tamara Madison

One Thanksgiving

My daughter, I know,
will not be coming
all the way from school
in New York. Then my son
says he’ll spend the day
with his girlfriend’s folks;
he can’t make
the long drive down
for our favorite holiday.

Ah, I say to myself.
They hurt you
when they enter this world;
they hurt you again
as they leave your side.

I take my solitary self in hand,
invite some lonely friends and plan.
So strange, without my daughter’s
kitchen skills, my boy’s
toasts and cheer and help.
I make the meal myself this time;
I even make the pies.

The friends arrive,
the wine is opened;
we gather around
the golden bird,
beets glistening on a bed
of garlic-studded greens,
the cranberry sauce
I always make
with marmalade
and lemon zest.

The moment I set
the last dish down,
the front door opens
and my lad walks in,
with his love on his arm.
My astonished face,
my friends will tell me later:
the embodiment of Thanksgiving.


Staying With My Sister

My sister’s husband says they can’t
go out to dinner anymore — there’s nothing
to talk about. He asks me to stay with her
while he goes to a conference.
I am glad for the change of scene
and to be with my big sister who has shown me
so much love all my life. I take her
to a restaurant — there’s plenty to talk about:
the menu, other diners, our parents.

My sister used to love to cook.
Now I’m the one making meals.
She wants to help, asks if she should
peel the garlic. Sure, I tell her, not thinking
as her husband might, of the perils
of the paring knife. I busy myself
with the rest of the meal. When I turn back,
I see she has peeled both whole knobs:
the cloves cluster like a trove of pearls.

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook “The Belly Remembers”, and two full-length volumes of poetry, “Wild Domestic” and “Moraine”, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, the Worcester Review, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and many other publications. A swimmer, dog lover and native of the southern California desert, she has recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school. Read more about her at

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