Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry

https://www.portside.org/2020-07-03/say-thank-you-say-im-sorry
Portside Date:
Author: Jericho Brown
Date of source:
NY Times Book Review

Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry

By Jericho Brown

I don’t know whose side you’re on,

But I am here for the people

Who work in grocery stores that glow in the morning

And close down for deep cleaning at night

Right up the street and in cities I mispronounce,

In towns too tiny for my big black

Car to quit, and in every wide corner

Of Kansas where going to school means

At least one field trip

To a slaughterhouse. I want so little: another leather bound

Book, a gimlet with a lavender gin, bread

So good when I taste it I can tell you

How it’s made. I’d like us to rethink

What it is to be a nation. I’m in a mood about America

Today. I have PTSD

About the Lord. God save the people who work

In grocery stores. They know a bit of glamour

Is a lot of glamour. They know how much

It costs for the eldest of us to eat. Save

My loves and not my sentences. Before I see them,

I draw a mole near my left dimple,

Behind my mask. I grin or lie or maybe

I wear the mouth of a beast. I eat wild animals

While some of us grow up knowing

What gnocchi is. The people who work at the grocery don’t care.

They say, Thank you. They say, Sorry,

We don’t sell motor oil anymore with a grief so thick

You could touch it. Go on. Touch it.

It is early. It is late. They have washed their hands.

They have washed their hands for you.

And they take the bus home.

Jericho Brown is author of the The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor at Emory University.


Source URL: https://www.portside.org/2020-07-03/say-thank-you-say-im-sorry