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The Old Roads Home

A Thanksgiving Basting

by GREG MOSES

Clogging aisles and bloating highways, America snatches foodstuffs and day-chunks of time. On the day before Thanksgiving, a grandchild of nine years old looks proud to help a stooped woman in lime slacks to read labels on an end cap. Gramma, old enough to remember slave stories fresh from the mouths of elders, looks proud to have such a young and beaming assist.

Cannery workers slide pallets of silent vegetables along steel tracks, butchers hack off heads, and fishermen wench up nets this year from just a little deeper down. Bites per million we chew from the earth while her bakery is still warm.

Global implosion tattooed into skin colors of hands that empty packages from shopping carts onto conveyor belts and hands that move those packages over the red eye of the man who counts everything going out. Compared to those continents where so many came from, is this unblinking calculation going to give us some kind of deal more fair?

If you grab your plastic bags and trip toward the bus, it will take you a short ride south to see how the masses begin to fill the steel benches at Congress and Sixth. From all over the world, masses have come, and they have carried their masses with them. Once you’re on the bench in America, tell me, where are the masses next to go? Down into the unmarked graves of the first peoples?

And despite the goddam terror chasing all this history forward, here is a day for baking a memory to thaw out again when the tiredness sets back in. In America it is impossible to have the time to think except for days like this. And that’s why we spend the entire day giving thanks. Because if you do spend a whole day thinking, you know you’re not going to want to take the old roads home.

GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush appears in Dime’s Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: gmosesx@prodigy.net.