Thanksgiving in the Anthropocene by Craig Santos Perez

Thank you, instant mashed potatoes, your bland taste
makes me feel like an average American. Thank you,

incarcerated Americans, for filling the labor shortage
and packing potatoes in Idaho. Thank you, canned

cranberry sauce, for your gelatinous curves. Thank you,
Ojibwe tribe in Wisconsin, your lake is now polluted

with phosphate-laden discharge from nearby cranberry
bogs. Thank you, crisp green beans, you are my excuse

for eating apple pie à la mode later. Thank you, indigenous
migrant workers, for picking the beans in Mexico’s farm belt,

may your children survive the season. Thank you, NAFTA,
for making life dirt cheap. Thank you, Butterball Turkey,

for the word, butterball, which I repeat all day butterball,
butterball, butterball because it helps me swallow the bones

of genocide. Thank you, dark meat, for being so juicy
(no offense, dry and fragile white meat, you matter too).

Thank you, 90 million factory-farmed turkeys, for giving
your lives during the holidays. Thank you, factory-farm

workers, for clipping turkey toes and beaks so they don’t scratch
and peck each other in overcrowded, dark sheds. Thank you,

genetic engineering and antibiotics, for accelerating
their growth. Thank you, stunning tank, for immobilizing

most of the turkeys hanging upside down by crippled legs.
Thank you, stainless steel knives, for your sharpened

edge and thirst for throat. Thank you, de-feathering
tank, for your scalding-hot water, for finally killing the last

still-conscious turkeys. Thank you, turkey tails, for feeding
Pacific Islanders all year round. Thank you, empire of

slaughter, for never wasting your fatty leftovers. Thank you,
tryptophan, for the promise of an afternoon nap;

I really need it. Thank you, store-bought stuffing,
for your ambiguously ethnic flavor, you remind me

that I’m not an average American. Thank you, gravy,
for being hot-off-the-boat and the most beautiful

brown. Thank you, dear readers, for joining me at the table
of this poem. Please join hands, bow your heads, and repeat

after me: “Let us bless the hands that harvest and butcher
our food, bless the hands that drive delivery trucks

and stock grocery shelves, bless the hands that cooked
and paid for this meal, bless the hands that bind

our hands and force-feed our endless mouth.
May we forgive each other and be forgiven.”

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