Gayle Danley Returns With Thanksgiving Reflections
KORVA COLEMAN, host:
If you heard our show on Monday, you heard the prize-winning slam poet Gayle Danley. She made us laugh and cry. She made us think. We were so gripped by her words and her performance that we asked her back to give another poem on this day before Thanksgiving. She didn't just spring into action. She thought about it for a while, and she decided to tell us how Thanksgiving made her stop and reevaluate how she thinks about her parents.
Ms. GAYLE DANLEY (Slam Poet): I used to feel sorry for my parents. They would go to their post office jobs, grab a laugh with coworkers when the boss wasn't looking, get a check every other Friday, buy groceries, watch TV, then go to bed every and each night. I used to feel sorry for my parents - post office jobs, sneak a laugh with Mary, Mammy, Mr. Stokes, who became their lifelong friends. A check every other Friday like perfect clockwork which secured their retirement, bought me Barbies, and bought Thanksgiving. Turkeys fat and succulent, dressing creamy as my mother's touch, cranberry sauce glistening in red. Then, they'd retire to bed, watch "Good Times," "Soul Train," "The Jeffersons," and sleep softly, their toes entangled each and every night.
Now, I used to feel sorry for my parents. Laverne(ph) and Dairy, wife and husband. Jobs as solid as earth. Silver afro'd friends I still ask about when I'm home. A check that will chase them to their graves. A home hugged in brick. Food, cable, love. I used to look down on them. I'd say, I'm going to do better than them when I'm grown. Each day will be an adventure when I'm all and grown-up. I'm going to be an artist. And I am. But checks don't chase me. I chase them. And this Thursday, we might be feasting on Hamburger Helper and conversation, and I'll choose between answering the call of my check engine light or shopping on Black Friday.
I used to feel sorry for them. My little eyes saw two dull lives, and now, I know better. I know love and decency make the highest life and that the best life is the one you make for yourself, naming your own joy like stars and keeping them glistening. I used to feel sorry for my parents, and now, I feel a little for me.
COLEMAN: Slam poet champion Gayle Danley. You can learn more about Gayle and hear our earlier conversation with her at our website - npr.org/tellmemore. And that's our program for today. I'm Korva Coleman, and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin returns tomorrow.
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