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Giving Thanks by Ms. Jackson

Giving Thanks

Illinois, 2020

We give thanks ---

For red cardinals that appear


For violets, pristine and tender,

And tall white oaks

That bear

The weight of midwestern winds

Moving across the prairie



For the kiss of the Great Lake

Michigan, on a Big Chicago, bodacious and bursting

With promises

Thanks for the lakes and rivers that flow through

A state of dreams and blood and tears,

Thin rivers of toil that lace the land

And a Big River, Mississippi,

That runs.

Thanks for mid-cities churning industry

For rural places poised on tractors

And waystations

Peopled with all kinds

Of people ---

All colors

A One

In the Land of Lincoln

Lifting Freedom, Union, yes

We pray for each other

In all our heartbreaks.

We give thanks

For hope,

For family, for dear ones,

And neighbors

For “I love you”

Written on the red wings of cardinals,

On the sweet petals of violets,

On the strong brown branches of oaks.

We give thanks,

Thanks and thanks.

Angela Jackson

Illinois Poet Laureate


This original poem ‘Giving Thanks’ was included in a New York Times article on November 26, 2020. It was Angela’s first poem as Illinois Poet Laureate.