Thank you, Mr. President.
It’s not every day
A person gets a chance
To say a thing like that.
worn my best dress and a scarf.
never wear scarves, but I wanted
To look like a grownup person
knows what to wear
meeting a president.
line wound all the way around
The block where the church was,
And I heard someone say
That you were in there,
Signing books at the rate of
One every six seconds.
we got near the front
could see the Secret Service
officials ushered us through,
us just how to hold the book cover
the title page
So that you could sign more
guess that made sense.
one of them took my book from me
I felt a moment of panic.
I get my own book back, or
else’s? They were all the same, but…
then she said, this will be yours ma’am. And she slid
book across the table in front of you.
hair was shining very softly in the light,
as you moved your pen effortlessly over the paper,
looked at me—right at me—and said,
then you hesitated,
though you wanted to say something more
as if you had momentarily forgotten
you had been saying, over and over.
then you said, everso tenderly,
that was all.
was time to be ushered out,
make room for the next person.
I marveled at how a politician,
former president, no less
gentle and so kind.
next day I read in the paper
the hundreds of people
got their books signed,
how you had a “thank you”
every one of them.
they each got a “thank you”
I know—I know
mine was just for me.
I wanted to thank you for that.
you, Mr. President.
by Leslie Kennelly
like a child
is easily distracted.
can dress it up,
it over with something warm
cozy—“A splash of color” perhaps.
now. You look pretty today, I say.
gives me a smile. Only a half-smile,
it will do.
I can get some work done.
times it is heavy,
worse than despair.
I have to speak to it severely:
really shouldn’t look so sad,
say. People will worry about you.
try to make you take those little pills.
ones with the happy faces stamped on.
wouldn’t let them?! it says, horrified.
no, I say.
really, I am not so sure.)
sometimes, if I am
still and open,
can hear it whimpering softly.
hurt, it says. Do not forsake me.
have to take it by hand,
to the place where God is.